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.  . 

presented  to  the 



*'-*''        J?7 

,  >  -  /i •»- / 

Social  Science 






By  RICHARD  T.  ELY,  PH.D.,  LL.D.  Revised  and 
enlarged  by  the  AUTHOR  and  THOMAS  S.  ADAMS, 








By  EZRA  T.  TOWNE,  PH.D. 

By  JAMES  1.  YOUNG,  PH.D. 







By  HENRY  C.  TAYLOR,  M.S.  AGR.,  PH.D. 








Assistant  Professor  of  Economics  in  the  University  of 

Wisconsin;    Co-author    of    the    History    of 

Labour  in  the  United  States 



All  Right*  Reserved 


COPYRIGHT,  1922, 

Set  up  and  electrotyped.    Published  October,  1922. 


THE  present  History  of  Trade  Unionism  in  the  United 
States  is  in  part  a  summary  of  work  in  labor  history  by 
Professor  John  R.  Commons  and  collaborators  at  the 
University  of  Wisconsin  from  1904  to  1918,  and  in  part 
an  attempt  by  the  author  to  carry  the  work  further.  Part 
I  of  the  present  book  is  based  on  the  History  of  Labour  in 
the  United  States  by  Commons  and  Associates  (Introduc- 
tion :  John  R.  Commons ;  Colonial  and  Federal  Beginnings, 
to  1827:  David  J.  Saposs;  Citizenship,  1827-1833:  Helen 
L.  Summer ;  Trade  Unionism,  1833-1839 :  Edward  B.  Mit- 
telman;  Humanitarianism,  1840-1860:  Henry  E.  Hoag- 
land;  Nationalization,  1860-1877:  John  B.  Andrews;  and 
Upheaval  and  Reorganization,  1876-1896 :  by  the  present 
author),  published  by  the  Macmillan  Company  in  1918 
in  two  volumes. 

Part  II,  "The  Larger  Career  of  Unionism,"  brings  the 
story  from  1897  down  to  date;  and  Part  III,  "Conclusions 
and  Inferences,"  is  an  attempt  to*  bring  together  several 
of  the  general  ideas  suggested  by  the  History.  Chapter 
12,  entitled  "An  Economic  Interpretation,"  follows  the 
line  of  analysis  laid  down  by  Professor  Commons  in  his 
study  of  the  American  shoemakers,  1648-1895.1 

The  author  wishes  to  express  his  strong  gratitude  to 
Professors  Richard  T.  Ely  and  John  R.  Commons  for 

1See  his  Labor  and  Adnwniftration,  CSiapter  XIV  (Macmillan, 



their  kind  aid  at  every  stage  of  this  work.  He  also  wishes 
to  acknowledge  his  indebtedness  to  Mr.  Edwin  E.  Witte, 
Director  of  the  Wisconsin  State  Legislative  Reference 
Library,  upon  whose  extensive  and  still  unpublished  re- 
searches he  based  his  summary  of  the  history  of  the 
injunction;  and  to  Professor  Frederick  L.  Paxson,  who 
subjected  the  manuscript  to  criticism  from  the  point  of 
view  of  General  American  History. 

S.  P. 



PREFACE     v 




(1)  Early  Beginnings,  to  1827 3 

(2)  Equal  Citizenship,  1827-1832     ....          9 

(3)  The  Period  of  the  "Wild-Cat"  Prosperity, 

1833-1837 18 

(4)  The  Long  Depression,  1837-1862     ...        29 

2  THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879  ....       42 


THE  AMERICAN  FEDERATION  OF  LABOR       ...        68 

4  REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887       ....        81 


FAILURE  OF  PRODUCERS'  COOPERATION     .      .      .      106 

6  STABILIZATION,  1888-1897 130 




1898-1914 163 

(1)  The  Miners 167 

(2)  The  Railway  Men 180 

(3)  The  Machinery  and  Metal  Trades  .      .      .      186 




(4)  The  Employers'  Reaction 190 

(5)  Legislation,  Courts,  and  Politics     .      .      .  198 







14  WHY  THERE  is  NOT  AN  AMERICAN  LABOR  PARTY     .  285 




INDEX     :.     ..     w    w    >.     . 309 


IN  THE  U.  S. 



(1)  Early  Beginnings,  to  1827 

The  customary  chronology  records  the  first  American 
labor  strike  in  1741.  In  that  year  the  New  York  bakers 
went  out  on  strike.  A  closer  analysis  discloses,  however, 
that  this  outbreak  was  a  protest  of  master  bakers  against 
a  municipal  regulation  of  the  price  of  bread,  not  a  wage 
earners'  strike  against  employers.  The  earliest  genuine 
labor  strike  in  America  occurred,  as  far  as  known,  in 
1786,  when  the  Philadelphia  printers  "turned  out"  for  a 
minimum  wage  of  six  dollars  a  week.  The  second  strike 
on  record  was  in  1791  by  Philadelphia  house  carpenters 
for  the  ten-hour  day.  The  Baltimore  sailors  were  suc- 
cessful in  advancing  their  wages  through  strikes  in  the 
years  1795,  1805,  and  1807,  but  their  endeavors  were 
recurrent,  not  permanent.  Even  more  ephemeral  were 
several  riotous  sailors'  strikes  as  well  as  a  ship  builders' 
strike  in  1817  at  Medford,  Massachusetts.  Doubtless 
many  other  such  outbreaks  occurred  during  the  period 
to  1820,  but  left  no  record  of  their  existence. 

A  strike  undoubtedly  is  a  symptom  of  discontent. 



However,  one  can  hardly  speak  of  a  beginning  of  trade 
unionism  until  such  discontent  has  become  expressed  in 
an  organization  that  keeps  alive  after  a  strike,  or  between 
strikes.  Such  permanent  organizations  existed  prior  to 
the  twenties  only  in  two  trades,  namely,  shoemaking  and 

The  first  continuous  organization  of  wage  earners  was 
that  of  the  Philadelphia  shoemakers,  organized  in  1792. 
This  society,  however,  existed  for  less  than  a  year  and  did 
not  even  leave  us  its  name.  The  shoemakers  of  Phila- 
delphia again  organized  in  1794  under  the  name  of  the 
Federal  Society  of  Journeymen  Cordwainers  and  main- 
tained their  existence  as  such  at  least  until  1806.  In 
1799  the  society  conducted  the  first  organized  strike, 
which  lasted  nine  or  ten  weeks.  Prior  to  1799,  the 
only  recorded  strikes  of  any  workmen  were  "unorganized" 
and,  indeed,  such  were  the  majority  of  the  strikes  that 
occurred  prior  to  the  decade  of  the  thirties  in  the  nine- 
teenth century. 

The  printers  organized  their  first  society  in  1794  in 
New  York  under  the  name  of  The  Typographical  So- 
ciety and  it  continued  in  existence  for  ten  years  and  six 
months.  The  printers  of  Philadelphia,  who  had  struck  in 
1786,  neglected  to  keep  up  an  organization  after  winning 
their  demands.  Between  the  years  1800  and  1805,  the 
shoemakers  and  the  printers  had  continuous  organizations 
in  Philadelphia,  New  York,  and  Baltimore.  In  1809 
the  shoemakers  of  Pittsburgh  and  the  Boston  printers 
were  added  to  the  list,  and  somewhat  later  the  Albany 
and  Washington  printers.  In  1810  the  printers  organized 
in  New  Orleans. 

The  separation  of  the  jorneymen  from  the  masters,  first 
shown  in  the  formation  of  these  organizations,  was  empha- 


sized  in  the  attitude  toward  employer  members.  The 
question  arose  over  the  continuation  in  membership  of 
those  who  became  employers.  The  shoemakers  excluded 
such  members  from  the  organization.  The  printers,  on 
the  other  hand,  were  more  liberal.  But  in  1817  the  New 
York  society  put  them  out  on  the  ground  that  "the 
interests  of  the  journeymen  are  separate  and  in  some 
respects  opposite  to  those  of  the  employers." 

The  strike  was  the  chief  weapon  of  these  early  societies. 
Generally  a  committee  was  chosen  by  the  society  to  pre- 
sent a  price  list  or  scale  of  wages  to  the  masters  indi- 
vidually. The  first  complete  wage  scale  presented  in  this 
country  was  drawn  up  by  the  organized  printers  of  New 
York  in  1800.  The  strikes  were  mainly  over  wages  and 
were  generally  conducted  in  an  orderly  and  compara- 
tively peaceful  manner.  In  only  one  instance,  that  of  the 
Philadelphia  shoemakers  of  1806,  is  there  evidence  of 
violence  and  intimidation.  In  that  case  "scabs"  were 
beaten  and  employers  intimidated  by  demonstrations  in 
front  of  the  shop  or  by  breaking  shop  windows.  During 
a  strike  the  duties  of  "picketing"  were  discharged  by 
tramping  committees.  The  Philadelphia  shoemakers, 
however,  as  early  as  1799,  employed  for  this  purpose  a 
paid  officer.  This  strike  was  for  higher  wages  for 
workers  on  boots.  Although  those  who  worked  on  shoes 
made  no  demands  of  their  own,  they  were  obliged  to  strike, 
much  against  their  will.  We  thus  meet  with  the  first 
sympathetic  strike  on  record.  In  1809  the  New  York 
shoemakers,  starting  with  a  strike  against  one  firm,  or- 
dered a  general  strike  when  they  discovered  that  that 
firm  was  getting  its  work  done  in  other  shops.  The  pay- 
ment of  strike  benefits  dates  from  the  first  authenticated 
strike,  namely  in  1786.  The  method  of  payment  varied 


from  society  to  society,  but  the  constitution  of  the  New 
York  shoemakers,  as  early  as  1805,  provided  for  a  per- 
manent strike  fund. 

The  aggressive  trade  unionism  of  these  early  trade 
societies  forced  the  masters  to  combine  against  them. 
Associations  of  masters  in  their  capacity  as  merchants 
had  usually  preceded  the  journeymen's  societies.  Their 
function  was  to  counteract  destructive  competition  from 
"advertisers'*  and  sellers  in  the  "public  market"  at  low 
prices.  As  soon,  however,  as  the  wage  question  became 
serious,  the  masters'  associations  proceeded  to  take  ori 
the  function  of  dealing  with  labor — mostly  aiming  to 
break  up  the  trade  societies.  Generally  they  sought  to 
create  an  available  force  of  non-union  labor  by  means 
of  advertising,  but  often  they  turned  to  the  courts  and 
brought  action  against  the  journeymen's  societies  on  the 
ground  of  conspiracy. 

The  bitterness  of  the  masters*  associations  against  the 
the  journeymen's  societies  perhaps  was  caused  not  so 
much  by  their  resistance  to  reductions  in  wages  as  by 
their  imposition  of  working  rules,  such  as  the  limitation 
of  the  number  of  apprentices,  the  minimum  wage,  and 
what  we  would  now  call  the  "closed  shop."  The  con- 
spiracy trials  largely  turned  upon  the  "closed  shop"  and 
in  these  the  shoemakers  figured  exclusively.1 

Altogether  six  criminal  conspiracy  cases  are  recorded 
against  the  shoemakers  from  1806  to  1815.  One  oc- 
curred in  Philadelphia  in  1806;  one  in  New  York  in 
1809;  two  in  Baltimore  in  1809;  and  two  in  Pittsburgh, 
the  first  in  1814  and  the  other  in  1815.  Each  case  was 
tried  before  a  jury  which  was  judge  both  of  law  and  fact. 
Four  of  the  cases  were  decided  against  the  journeymen. 
»See  below,  147-148. 


In  one  of  the  Baltimore  cases  judgment  was  rendered  in 
favor  of  the  journeymen.  The  Pittsburgh  case  of  1815 
was  compromised,  the  shoemakers  paying  the  costs  and 
returning  to  work  at  the  old  wages.  The  outcome  in  the 
other  cases  is  not  definitely  known.  It  was  brought  out 
in  the  testimony  that  the  masters  financed,  in  part  at  least, 
the  New  York  and  Pittsburgh  prosecutions. 

Effective  as  the  convictions  in  court  for  conspiracy 
may  have  been  in  checking  the  early  trade  societies,  of 
much  greater  consequence  was  the  industrial  depression 
which  set  in  after  the  conclusion  of  the  Napoleonic  Wars. 
The  lifting  of  the  Embargo  enabled  the  foreign  traders 
and  manufacturers  to  dump  their  products  upon  the 
American  market.  The  incipient  American  industries 
were  in  no  position  to  withstand  this  destructive  compe- 
tion.  Conditions  were  made  worse  by  past  over  invest- 
ment and  by  the  collapse  of  currency  inflation. 

Trade  unionism  for  the  time  being  had  to  come  to  an 
end.  The  effect  on  the  journeymen's  societies  was  para- 
lyzing. Only  those  survived  which  turned  to  mutual  in- 
surance. Several  of  the  printers'  societies  had  already 
instituted  benefit  features,  and  these  now  helped  them 
considerably  to  maintain  their  organization.  The  shoe- 
makers' societies  on  the  other  hand  had  remained  to  the 
end  purely  trade-regulating  organizations  and  went  to 
the  wall. 

Depression  reached  its  ebb  in  1820.  Thereafter  con- 
ditions improved,  giving  rise  to  aggressive  organizations 
of  wage  earners  in  several  industries.  We  find  strikes 
and  permanent  organizations  among  hatters,  tailors, 
weavers,  nailers,  and  cabinet  makers.  And  for  the  first 
time  we  meet  with  organizations  of  factory  workers — • 
female  workers. 


Beginning  with  1824  and  running  through  1825,  the 
year  which  saw  the  culmination  of  a  period  of  high  prices, 
a  number  of  strikes  occurred  in  the  important  industrial 
centers.  The  majority  were  called  to  enforce  higher 
wages.  In  Philadelphia,  2900  weavers  out  of  about  4500 
in  the  city  were  on  strike.  But  the  strike  that  attracted 
the  most  public  attention  was  that  of  the  Boston  house 
carpenters  for  the  ten-hour  day  in  1825. 

The  Boston  journeymen  carpenters  chose  the  most 
strategic  time  for  their  strike.  They  called  it  in  the 
spring  of  the  year  when  there  was  a  great  demand  for 
carpenters  owing  to  a  recent  fire.  Close  to  six  hundred 
journeymen  were  involved  in  this  struggle.  The  journey- 
men's demand  for  the  ten-hour  day  drew  a  characteristic 
reply  from  the  "gentlemen  engaged  in  building,"  the  cus- 
tomers of  the  master  builders.  They  condemned  the  jour- 
neymen on  the  moral  ground  that  an  agitation  for  a 
shorter  day  would  open  "a  wide  door  for  idleness  and 
vice";  hinted  broadly  at  the  foreign  origin  of  the  agita- 
tion ;  declared  that  all  combinations  intending  to  regulate 
the  value  of  labor  by  abridging  the  working  day  were  in 
a  high  degree  unjust  and  injurious  to  the  other  classes 
in  the  community;  announced  their  resolution  to  support 
the  masters  at  the  sacrifice  of  suspending  building  alto- 
gether; and  bound  themselves  not  to  employ  any  journey- 
man or  master  who  might  enforce  the  ten-hour  day.  The 
strike  failed. 

The  renewed  trade-union  activities  brought  forth  a 
fresh  crop  of  trials  for  conspiracy.1  One  case  involved 
Philadelphia  master  shoemakers  who  combined  to  reduce 
wages,  two  were  against  journeymen  tailors  in  Philadel- 
phia and  Buffalo  and  the  fourth  was  a  hatters'  case  in 
4See  below,  148-149. 


New  York.  The  masters  were  acquitted  and  the  hatters 
were  found  guilty  of  combining  to  deprive  a  non-union 
man  of  his  livelihood.  In  the  Philadelphia  tailors'  case, 
the  journeymen  were  convicted  on  the  charge  of  intimi- 
dation. Of  the  Buffalo  tailors'  case  it  is  only  known  that 
it  ended  in  the  conviction  of  the  journeymen. 

(2)  Equal  Citizenship,  1827-1832 

So  far  we  have  dealt  only  with  trade  societies  but  not 
yet  with  a  labor  movement.  A  labor  movement  presup- 
poses a  feeling  of  solidarity  which  goes  beyond  the  bound- 
aries of  a  single  trade  and  extends  to  other  wage  earners. 
The  American  labor  movement  ..began  in  1827.  when  the 
several  trades  in  Philadelphia  organized  the  Mechanics' 
Union  of  Trade  Associations,  which  was,  so  far  as  now 
known,  the  first  city  central  organization  of  trades  in  the 
world.  This  Union,  originally  intended  as  an  economic 
organization,  changed  to  a  political  one  the  following 
year  and  initiated  what  was  probably  the  most  interesting 
and  most  typically  American  labor  movement — a  struggle 
for  "equality  of  citizenship."  It  was  brought  to  a  head 
by  the  severe  industrial  depression  of  the  time.  But  the 
decisive  impulse  came  from  the  nation-wide  democratic 
upheaval  led  by  Andrew  Jackson,  for  which  the  poorer 
classes  in  the  cities  displayed  no  less  enthusiasm  than  the 
agricultural  West.  To  the  wage  earner  this  outburst  of 
democratic  fervor  offered  an  opportunity  to  try  out  his 
recently  acquired  franchise.  Of  the  then  industrial  States, 
Massachusetts  granted  suffrage  to  the  workingmen  in 
1820  and  New  York  in  1822.  In  Pennsylvania  the  con- 
stitution of  1790  had  extended  the  right  of  suffrage  to 
those  who  paid  any  kind  of  a  state  or  county  tax,  how- 
ever small. 


The  wage  earners*  Jacksonianism  struck  a  note  all  its 
own.  If  the  farmer  and  country  merchant,  who  had 
passed  through  the  abstract  stage  of  political  aspiration 
with  the  Jeffersonian  democratic  movement,  were  now, 
with  Jackson,  reaching  out  for  the  material  advantages 
which  political  power  might  yield,  the  wage  earners,  being 
as  yet  novices  in  politics,  naturally  were  more  strongly 
impressed  with  that  aspect  of  the  democratic  upheaval 
which  emphasized  the  rights  of  man  in  general  and  social 
equality  in  particular.  If  the  middle  class  Jacksonian 
was  probably  thinking  first  of  reducing  the  debt  on  his 
farm  or  perchance  of  getting  a  political  office,  and  only 
as  an  after-thought  proceeding  to  look  for  a  justification 
in  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  as  yet  the  wage  earner 
was  starting  with  the  abstract  notion  of  equal  citizenship 
as  contained  in  the  Declaration,  and  only  then  proceeding 
to  search  for  the  remedies  which  would  square  reality 
with  the  idea.  Hence  it  was  that  the  aspiration  toward 
equal  citizenship  became  the  keynote  of  labor's  earliest 
political  movement.  The  issue  was  drawn  primarily  be- 
tween the  rich  and  the  poor,  not  between  the  functional 
classes,  employers  and  employes.  While  the  workmen 
took  good  care  to  exclude  from  their  ranks  "persons 
not  living  by  some  useful  occupation,  such  as  bankers, 
brokers,  rich  men,  etc.,"  they  did  not  draw  the  line 
on  employers  as  such,  master  workmen  and  independent 

The  workingmen's  bill  of  complaints,  as  set  forth  in  the 
Philadelphia  Mechanic's  Free  Press  and  other  labor  pa- 
pers, clearly  marks  off  the  movement  as  a  rebellion  by 
the  class  of  newly  enfranchised  wage  earners  against  con- 
ditions which  made  them  feel  degraded  in  their  own  eyes 
as  full  fledged  citizens  of  the  commonwealth. 


The  complaints  were  of  different  sorts  but  revolved 
around  the  charge  of  the  usurpation  of  government  by  an 
"aristocracy."  Incontrovertible  proof  of  this  charge 
was  found  in  special  legislation  chartering  banks  and 
other  corporations.  The  banks  were  indicted  upon  two 
counts.  First,  the  unstable  bank  paper  money  defrauded 
the  wage  earner  of  a  considerable  portion  of  the  pur- 
chasing power  of  his  wages.  Second,  banks  restricted 
competition  and  shut  off  avenues  for  the  "man  on  the 
make."  The  latter  accusation  may  be  understood  only 
if  we  keep  in  mind  that  this  was  a  period  when  bank 
credits  began  to  play  an  essential  part  in  the  conduct  of 
industry;  that  with  the  extension  of  the  market  into  the 
States  and  territories  South  and  West,  with  the  resulting 
delay  in  collections,  business  could  be  carried  on  only  by 
those  who  enjoyed  credit  facilities  at  the  banks.  Now, 
as  credit  generally  follows  access  to  the  market,  it  was 
inevitable  that  the  beneficiary  of  the  banking  system 
should  not  be  the  master  or  journeyman  but  the  merchant 
for  whom  both  worked.1  To  the  uninitiated,  however, 
this  arrangement  could  only  appear  in  the  light  of  a  huge 
conspiracy  entered  into  by  the  chartered  monopolies,  the 
banks,  and  the  unchartered  monopolist,  the  merchant,  to 
shut  out  the  possible  competition  by  the  master  and 
journeyman.  The  grievance  appeared  all  the  more  seri- 
ous since  all  banks  were  chartered  by  special  enactments 
of  the  legislature,  which  thus  appeared  as  an  accomplice 
in  the  conspiracy. 

In  addition  to  giving  active  help  to  the  rich,  the  work- 
ingmen  argued,  the  government  was  too  callous  to  the 
suffering  of  the  poor  and  pointed  to  the  practice  of  im- 
prisonment for  debt.  The  Boston  Prison  Discipline  So- 
1  See  below,  270-272. 


ciety,  a  philanthropic  organization,  estimated  in  1829 
that  about  75,000  persons  were  annually  imprisoned  for 
debt  in  the  United  States.  Many  of  these  were  im- 
prisoned for  very  small  debts.  In  one  Massachusetts 
prison,  for  example,  out  of  37  cases,  20  were  for  less  than 
$20.  The  Philadelphia  printer  and  philanthropist, 
Mathew  Carey,  father  of  the  economist  Henry  C.  Carey, 
cited  a  contemporary  Boston  case  of  a  blind  man  with  a 
family  dependent  on  him  imprisoned  for  a  debt  of  six 
dollars.  A  labor  paper  reported  an  astounding  case  of 
a  widow  in  Providence,  Rhode  Island,  whose  husband  had 
lost  his  life  in  a  fire  while  attempting  to  save  the  property 
of  the  man  who  later  caused  her  imprisonment  for  a  debt 
of  68  cents.  The  physical  conditions  in  debtors'  jails 
were  appalling,  according  to  unimpeachable  contemporary 
reports.  Little  did  such  treatment  of  the  poor  accord 
with  their  newly  acquired  dignity  as  citizens. 

Another  grievance,  particularly  exasperating  because 
the  government  was  responsible,  grew  in  Pennsylvania  out 
of  the  administration  of  the  compulsory  militia  system. 
Service  was  obligatory  upon  all  male  citizens  and  non- 
attendance  was  punished  by  fine  or  imprisonment.  The 
rich  delinquent  did  not  mind,  but  the  poor  delinquent 
when  unable  to  pay  was  given  a  jail  sentence. 

Other  complaints  by  workingmen  went  back  to  the 
failure  of  government  to  protect  the  poorer  citizen's 
right  to  "life,  liberty,  and  the  pursuit  of  happiness.'* 
The  lack  of  a  mechanic's  lien  law,  which  would  protect 
his  wages  in  the  case  of  his  employer's  bankruptcy,  was 
keenly  felt  by  the  workingmen.  A  labor  paper  estimated 
in  1829  that,  owing  to  the  lack  of  a  lien  law  on  buildings, 
not  less  than  three  or  four  hundred  thousand  dollars  in 
wages  were  annually  lost. 

But  the  most  distinctive  demands  of  the  workingmen 
went  much  further.  This  was  an  age  of  egalitarianism. 
The  Western  frontiersmen  demanded  equality  with  the 
wealthy  Eastern  merchant  and  banker,  and  found  in 
Andrew  Jackson  an  ideal  spokesman.  For  a  brief  mo- 
ment it  seemed  that  by  equality  the  workingmen  meant 
an  equal  division  of  all  property.  That  was  the  pro- 
gram which  received  temporary  endorsement  at  the  first 
workingmen's  meeting  in  New  York  in  April  1829. 
"Equal  division"  was  advocated  by  a  self-taught  me- 
chanic by  the  name  of  Thomas  Skidmore,  who  elaborated 
his  ideas  in  a  book  bearing  the  self-revealing  title  of 
"The  Rights  of  Man  to  Property:  being  a  Proposition  to 
make  it  Equal  among  the  Adults  of  the  Present  Genera- 
tion: and  to  Provide  for  its  Equal  Transmission  to 
Every  Individual  of  Each  Succeeding  Generation,  on 
Arriving  at  the  Age  of  Maturity"  published  in  1829. 
This  Skidmorian  program  was  better  known  as  "agrarian- 
ism,"  probably  from  the  title  of  a  book  by  Thomas  Paine, 
Agrarian  Justice,  as  Opposed  to  Agrarian  Law  and  to 
Agrarian  Monopoly,  published  in  1797  in  London,  which 
advocated  equal  division  by  means  of  an  inheritance  tax. 
Its  adoption  by  the  New  York  .workingmen  was  little 
more  than  a  stratagem,  for  their  intention  was  to  fore- 
stall any  attempts  by  employers  to  lengthen  the  working 
day  to  eleven  hours  by  raising  the  question  of  "the 
nature  of  the  tenure  by  which  all  men  hold  title  to  their 
property."  Apparently  the  stratagem  worked,  for  the  em- 
ployers immediately  dropped  the  eleven-hour  issue.  But, 
although  the  workingmen  quickly  thereafter  repudiated 
agrarianism,  they  succeeded  only  too  well  in  affixing  to 
their  movement  the  mark  of  the  beast  in  the  eyes  of  their 
opponents  and  the  general  public. 

Except  during  the  brief  but  damaging  "agrarian"  epi- 
sode, the  demand  for  free  public  education  or  "Republi- 
can" education  occupied  the  foreground.  We,  who  live 
in  an  age  when  free  education  at  the  expense  of  the  com- 
munity is  considered  practically  an  inalienable  right  of 
every  child,  find  it  extremely  difficult  to  understand  the 
vehemence  of  the  opposition  which  the  demand  aroused  on 
the  part  of  the  press  and  the  "conservative"  classes,  when 
first  brought  up  by  the  workingmen.  The  explanation 
lies  partly  in  the  political  situation,  partly  in  the  moral 
character  of  the  "intellectual"  spokesmen  for  the  work- 
ingmen, and  partly  in  the  inborn  conservatism  of  the  tax- 
paying  classes  upon  whom  the  financial  burden  would  fall. 
That  the  educational  situation  was  deplorable  much 
proof  is  unnecessary.  Pennsylvania  had  some  public 
schools,  but  parents  had  to  declare  themselves  too  poor 
to  send  their  children  to  a  private  school  before  they 
were  allowed  the  privilege  of  sending  them  there.  In  fact 
so  much  odium  attached  to  these  schools  that  they  were 
practically  useless  and  the  State  became  distinguished  for 
the  number  of  children  not  attending  school.  As  late 
as  1837  a  labor  paper  estimated  that  250,000  out  of 
400,000  children  in  Pennsylvania  of  school  age  were  not 
in  any  school.  The  Public  School  Society  of  New  York 
estimated  in  a  report  for  1829  that  in  New  York  City 
alone  there  were  24,200  children  between  the  ages  of  five 
and  fifteen  years  not  attending  any  school  whatever. 

To  meet  these  conditions  the  workingmen  outlined  a 
comprehensive  educational  program.  It  was  not  merely 
a  literary  education  that  the  workingmen  desired.  The 
idea  of  industrial  education,  or  training  for  a  vocation, 
which  is  even  now  young  in  this  country,  was  undoubtedly 
first  introduced  by  the  leaders  of  this  early  labor  move- 


ment.  They  demanded  a  system  of  public  education  which 
would  "combine  a  knowledge  of  the  practical  arts  with 
that  of  the  useful  sciences."  The  idea  of  industrial  edu- 
cation appears  to  have  originated  in  a  group  of  which 
two  "intellectuals,"  Robert  Dale  Owen  and  Frances 
Wright,  were  the  leading  spirits. 

Robert  Dale  Owen  was  the  eldest  son  of  Robert  Owen, 
the  famous  English  manufacturer-philanthropist,  who 
originated  the  system  of  socialism  known  as  "Owenism." 
Born  in  Scotland,  he  was  educated  at  Hofwyl,  Switzer- 
land, in  a  school  conducted  by  Emmanuel  von  Fellenberg, 
the  associate  of  the  famous  Pestalozzi,  as  a  self-govern- 
ing children's  republic  on  the  manner  of  the  present 
"Julior  Republics."  Owen  himself  said  that  he  owed  his 
abiding  faith  in  human  virtue  and  social  progress  to  his 
years  at  Hofwyl.  In  1825  Robert  Dale  left  England 
to  join  his  father  in  a  communistic  experiment  at  New 
Harmony,  Indiana,  and  together  they  lived  through  the 
vicissitudes  which  attended  that  experiment.  There  he 
met  Frances  Wright,  America's  first  suffragist,  with 
whom  he  formed  an  intimate  friendship  lasting  through 
many  years.  The  failure  at  New  Harmony  convinced 
him  that  his  father  had  overlooked  the  importance  of 
the  anti-social  habits  which  the  members  had  formed 
before  they  joined;  and  he  concluded  that  those  could 
be  prevented  only  by  applying  a  rational  system  of  edu- 
cation to  the  young.  These  conclusions,  together  with 
the  recollections  of  his  experience  at  Hofwyl,  led  him 
to  advocate  a  new  system  of  education,  which  came  to  be 
called  "state  guardianship." 

State  guardianship  was  a  demand  for  the  establish- 
ment by  the  state  of  boarding  schools  where  children 
should  receive,  not  only  equal  instruction,  general  as  well 


as  industrial,  but  equal  food  and  equal  clothing  at  the 
public  expense.  Under  this  system,  it  was  asserted,  public 
schools  would  become  "not  schools  of  charity,  but  schools 
of  the  nation,  to  the  support  of  which  all  would  con- 
tribute; and  instead  of  being  almost  a  disgrace,  it  would 
become  an  honor  to  have  been  educated  there."  It  was 
urged  as  an  especial  advantage  that,  as  children  would 
be  clothed  and  cared  for  at  all  times,  the  fact  that  poor 
parents  could  not  afford  to  dress  their  children  "as  de- 
cently as  their  neighbors"  would  not  prevent  their  at- 

State  guardianship  became  the  battle  cry  of  an.  im- 
portant faction  in  the  Workingmen's  party  in  New  York. 
Elsewhere  a  less  radical  program  was  advocated.  In 
Philadelphia  the  workingmen  demanded  only  that  high 
schools  be  on  the  Hofwyl  model,  whereas  in  the  smaller 
cities  and  towns  in  both  Pennsylvania  and  New  York  the 
demand  was  for  "literary"  day  schools.  Yet  the  under- 
lying principle  was  the  same  everywhere.  A  labor  can- 
didate for  Congress  in  the  First  Congressional  District 
of  Philadelphia  in  1830  expressed  it  succinctly  during  his 
campaign.  He  made  his  plea  on  the  ground  that  "he 
is  the  friend  and  indefatigable  defender  of  a  system  of 
general  education,  which  will  place  the  citizens  of  this 
extensive  Republic  on  an  equality;  a  system  that  will  fit 
the  children  of  the  poor,  as  well  as  the  rich,  to  become  our 
future  legislators ;  a  system  that  will  bring  the  children 
of  the  poor  and  the  rich  to  mix  together  as  a  band  of 
Republican  brethren." 

In  New  England  the  workingmen's  movement  for  equal 
citizenship  was  simultaneously  a  reaction  against  the 
factory  system.  To  the  cry  for  a  Republican  system  of 
education  was  added  an  anti-child  labor  crusade.  One 


who  did  more  than  any  other  to  call  attention  to  the  evils 
of  the  factory  system  of  that  day  was  a  lawyer  by  the 
name  of  Seth  Luther,  who,  according  to  his  own  account, 
had  "for  years  lived  among  cotton  mills,  worked  in  them, 
travelled  among  them."  His  "Address  to  the  Working 
Men  of  New  England  on  the  State  of  Education,  and  on 
the  Condition  of  the  Producing  Classes  in  Europe  and 
America,  with  Particular  Reference  to  the  Effect  of 
Manufacturing  (as  now  conducted)  on  the  Health  and 
Happiness  of  the  Poor,  and  on  the  Safety  of  our  Re- 
public" was  delivered  widely  and  undoubtedly  had  consid- 
erable influence  over  the  labor  movement  of  the  period. 
The  average  working  day  in  the  best  factories  at  that 
time  was  nearly  thirteen  hours.  For  the  children  who 
were  sent  into  the  factories  at  an  early  age  these  hours 
precluded,  of  course,  any  possibility  of  obtaining  even 
the  most  rudimentary  education. 

The  New  England  movement  was  an  effort  to  unite 
producers  of  all  kinds,  including  not  only  farmers  but 
factory  workers  with  mechanics  and  city  workingmen. 
In  many  parts  of  the  State  of  New  York  the  workingmen's 
parties  included  the  three  classes — "farmers,  mechanics, 
and  working  men," — but  New  England  added  a  fourth 
class,  the  factory  operatives.  It  was  early  found,  how- 
ever, that  the  movement  could  expect  little  or  no  help 
from  the  factory  operatives,  who  were  for  the  most  part 
women  and  children. 

The  years  1828,  1829,  and  1830  were  years  of  political 
labor  movements  and  labor  parties.  Philadelphia  origi- 
nated the  first  workingmen's  party,  then  came  New  York 
and  Boston,  and  finally  state-wide  movements  and  po- 
litical organizations  in  each  of  the  three  States.  In 
New  York  the  workingmen  scored  their  most  striking 


single  success,  when  in  1829  they  cast  6000  votes  out  of  a 
total  of  21,000.  In  Philadelphia  the  labor  ticket  polled 
2400  in  1828  and  the  labor  party  gained  the  balance  of 
power  in  the  city.  But  the  inexperience  of  the  labor  poli- 
ticians coupled  with  machinations  on  the  part  of  "de- 
signing men"  of  both  older  parties  soon  lost  the  labor 
parties  their  advantage.  In  New  York  Tammany  made 
the  demand  for  a  mechanics'  lien  law  its  own  and  later 
saw  that  it  became  enacted  into  law.  In  New  York,  also, 
the  situation  became  complicated  by  factional  strife  be- 
tween the  Skidmorian  "agrarians,"  the  Owenite  state 
guardianship  faction,  and  a  third  faction  which  eschewed 
either  "panacea."  Then,  too,  the  opposition  parties  and 
press  seized  upon  agrarianism  and  Owen's  alleged  atheism 
to  brand  the  whole  labor  movement.  The  labor  party  was 
decidedly  unfortunate  in  its  choice  of  intellectuals  and 

It  would  be,  however,  a  mistake  to  conclude  that  the 
Philadelphia,  New  York,  or  New  England  political  move- 
ments were  totally  without  results.  Though  unsuc- 
cessful in  electing  their  candidates  to  office,  they  did  suc- 
ceed in  placing  their  demands  to  advantage  before  the 
public.  Humanitarians,  like  Horace  Mann,  took  up  inde- 
pendently the  fight  for  free  public  education  and  carried 
it  to  success.  In  Pennsylvania,  public  schools,  free  from 
the  taint  of  charity,  date  since  1836.  In  New  York  City 
the  public  school  system  was  established  in  1832.  The 
same  is  true  of  the  demand  for  a  mechanics'  lien  law,  of 
the  abolition  of  imprisonment  for  debt,  and  of  others. 

(3)  The  Period  of  the  "Wild-cat"  Prosperity,  1833-1837 

With  the  break-up  of  the  workingmen's  parties,  la- 
bor's newly  acquired  sense  of  solidarity  was  temporarily 


lost,  leaving  only  the  restricted  solidarity  of  the  isolated 
trade  society.  Within  that  limit,  however,  important 
progress  began  to  be  made.  In  1833,  there  were  in  New 
York  twenty-nine  organized  trades;  in  Philadelphia, 
twenty-one;  and  in  Baltimore,  seventeen.  Among  those 
organized  in  Philadelphia  were  hand-loom  weavers,  plas- 
terers, bricklayers,  black  and  white  smiths,  cigar  makers, 
plumbers,  and  women  workers  including  tailoresses,  seam- 
stresses, binders,  folders,  milliners,  corset  makers,  and 
mantua  workers.  Several  trades,  such  as  the  printers 
and  tailors  in  New  York  and  the  Philadelphia  carpen- 
ters, which  formerly  were  organized  upon  the  benevolent 
basis,  were  now  reorganized  as  trade  societies.  The 
benevolent  New  York  Typographical  Society  was  reduced 
to  secondary  importance  by  the  appearance  in  1831  of 
the  New  York  Typographical  Association. 

But  the  factor  that  compelled  labor  to  organize  on  a 
much  larger  scale  was  the  remarkable  rise  in  prices  from 
1835  to  1837.  This  rise  in  prices  was  coincident  with 
the  "wild-cat"  prosperity,  which  followed  a  rapid  multi- 
plication of  state  banks  with  the  right  of  issue  of  paper 
currency — largely  irredeemable  "wild-cat"  currency. 
Cost  of  living  having  doubled,  the  subject  of  wages  became 
a  burning  issue.  At  the  same  time  the  general  business 
prosperity  rendered  demands  for  higher  wages  easily 
attainable.  The  outcome  was  a  luxuriant  growth  of  trade 

In  1836  there  were  in  Philadelphia  fifty-eight  trade 
unions ;  in  Newark,  New  Jersey,  sixteen ;  in  New  York, 
fifty-two;  in  Pittsburgh,  thirteen;  in  Cincinnati,  four- 
teen; and  in  Louisville,  seven.  In  Buffalo  the  journey- 
men builders'  association  included  all  the  building  trades. 
The  tailors  of  Louisville,  Cincinnati,  and  St.  Louis  made 


a  concentrated  effort  against  their  employers  in  these 
three  cities. 

The  wave  of  organization  reached  at  last  the  women 
workers.  In  1830  the  well-known  Philadelphia  philan- 
thropist, Mathew  Carey,  asserted  that  there  were  in  the 
cities  of  New  York,  Boston,  Philadelphia,  and  Baltimore 
about  20,000  women  who  could  not  by  constant  employ- 
ment for  sixteen  hours  out  of  twenty-four  earn  more  than 
$1.25  a  week.  These  were  mostly  seamstresses  and  tailor- 
esses,  umbrella  makers,  shoe  binders,  cigar  makers,  and 
book  binders.  In  New  York  there  was  in  1835  a  Female 
Union  Association,  in  Baltimore  a  United  Seamstresses' 
Society,  and  in  Philadelphia  probably  the  first  federa- 
tion of  women  workers  in  this  country.  In  Lynn,  Massa- 
chusetts, a  "Female  Society  of  Lynn  and  Vicinity  for  the 
Protection  and  Promotion  of  Female  Industry"  operated 
during  1833  and  1834  among  the  shoe  binders  and  had 
at  one  time  1000  members,  who,  like  the  seamstresses, 
were  home  workers  and  earned  scanty  wages. 

Where  nearly  every  trade  was  in  motion,  it  did  not  take 
long  to  discover  a  common  direction  and  a  common  pur- 
pose. This  was  expressed  in  city  "trades'  unions,"  or 
federations  of  all  organized  trades  in  a  city,  and  in  its 
ascendency  over  the  individual  trade  societies. 

The  first  trades'  union  was  organized  August  14,  1833, 
in  New  York.  Baltimore  followed  in  September,  Phila- 
delphia in  November,  and  Boston  in  March  1834.  New 
York  after  1820  was  the  metropolis  of  the  country  and 
also  the  largest  industrial  and  commercial  center.  There 
the  house  carpenters  had  struck  for  higher  wages  in  the 
latter  part  of  May  1833,  and  fifteen  other  trades  met 
and  pledged  their  support.  Out  of  this  grew  the  New 
York  Trades'  Union.  It  had  an  official  organ  in  a  weekly, 


the  National  Trades9  Union,  published  from  1834  to 
1836,  and  a  daily,  The  Union,  issued  in  1836.  Ely  Moore, 
a  printer,  was  made  president.  Moore  was  elected  a  few 
months  later  as  the  first  representative  of  labor  in 

In  addition,  trades'  unions  were  organized  in  Washing- 
ton; in  New  Brunswick  and  Newark,  New  Jersey;  in  Al- 
bany, Troy,  and  Schenectady,  New  York;  and  in  the 
"Far  West" — Pittsburgh,  Cincinnati,  and  Louisville. 

Except  in  Boston,  the  trades'  unions  felt  anxious  to 
draw  the  line  between  themselves  and  the  political  labor 
organizations  of  the  preceding  years.  In  Philadelphia, 
where  as  we  have  seen,  the  formation  of  an  analogous 
organization,  the  Mechanics'  Union  of  Trade  Associa- 
tions of  1828,  had  served  as  a  preliminary  for  a  political 
movement,  the  General  Trades'  Union  took  especial  pre- 
caution and  provided  in  the  constitution  that  "no  party, 
political  or  religious  questions  shall  at  any  time  be  agi- 
tated in  or  acted  upon  in  the  Union."  Its  official  organ, 
the  National  Laborer,  declared  that  "the  Trades'  Union 
never  will  be  political  because  its  members  have  learned 
from  experience  that  the  introduction  of  politics  into  their 
societies  has  thwarted  every  effort  to  ameliorate  their 

The  repudiation  of  active  politics  did  not  carry  with 
it  a  condemnation  of  legislative  action  or  "lobbying." 
On  the  contrary,  these  years  witnessed  the  first  sus- 
tained legislative  campaign  that  was  ever  conducted  by  a 
labor  organization,  namely  the  campaign  by  the  New 
York  Trades'  Union  for  the  suppression  of  the  competi- 
tion from  prison-made  goods.  Under  the  pressure  of  the 
New  York  Union  the  State  Legislature  created  in  1834 
a  special  commission  on  prison  labor  with  its  president, 


Ely  Moore,  as  one  of  the  three  commissioners.  On  this 
question  of  prison  labor  the  trade  unionists  clashed  with 
the  humanitarian  prison  reformers,  who  regarded  produc- 
tive labor  by  prisoners  as  a  necessary  means  of  their  re- 
form to  an  honest  mode  of  living;  and  the  humanitarian 
won.  After  several  months*  work  the  commission  sub- 
mitted what  was  to  the  Union  an  entirely  unsatisfactory 
report.  It  approved  the  prison-labor  system  as  a  whole 
and  recommended  only  minor  changes.  Ely  Moore  signed 
the  report,  but  a  public  meeting  of  workingmen  con- 
demned it. 

The  rediscovered  solidarity  between  the  several  trades 
now  embodied  in  the  city  trades'  unions  found  its  first  ex- 
pression on  a  large  scale  in  a  ten-hour  movement. 

The  first  concerted  demand  for  the  ten-hour  day  was 
made  by  the  workingmen  of  Baltimore  in  August  1833, 
and  extended  over  seventeen  trades.  But  the  mechanics' 
aspiration  for  a  ten-hour  day — perhaps  the  strongest 
spiritual  inheritance  from  the  preceding  movement  for 
equal  citizenship,1  had  to  await  a  change  in  the  general 
condition  of  industry  to  render  trade  union  effort  ef- 
fective before  it  could  turn  into  a  well  sustained  move- 
ment. That  change  finally  came  with  the  prosperous 
year  of  1835. 

The  movement  was  precipitated  in  Boston.  There,  as 
we  saw,  the  carpenters  had  been  defeated  in  an  effort  to 
establish  a  ten-hour  day  in  1825,2  but  made  another  at- 
tempt in  the  spring  of  1835.  This  time,  however,  they 
did  not  stand  alone  but  were  joined  by  the  masons  and 
stone-cutters.  As  before,  the  principal  attack  was  di- 

1  The  workingmen  felt  that  they  required  leisure  to  be   able  to 
exercise  their  rights  of  citizens. 
'The  ship  carpenters  had  been  similarly  defeated  in  1832. 


rected  against  the  "capitalists,"  that  is,  the  owners  of  the 
buildings  and  the  real  estate  speculators.  The  employer 
or  small  contractor  was  viewed  sympathetically.  "We 
would  not  be  too  severe  on  our  employers,"  said  the 
strikers'  circular,  which  was  sent  out  broadcast  over  the 
country,  "they  are  slaves  to  the  capitalists,  as  we  are 
to  them." 

The  strike  was  protracted.  The  details  of  it  are  not 
known,  but  we  know  that  it  won  sympathy  throughout 
the  country.  A  committee  visited  in  July  the  different 
cities  on  the  Atlantic  coast  to  solicit  aid  for  the  strikers. 
In  Philadelphia,  when  the  committee  arrived  in  company 
with  delegates  from  New  York,  Newark,  and  Paterson, 
the  Trades'  Union  held  a  special  meeting  and  resolved 
to  stand  by  the  "Boston  House  Wrights"  who,  "in  imi- 
tation of  the  noble  and  decided  stand  taken  by  their  Revo- 
lutionary Fathers,  have  determined  to  throw  off  the 
shackles  of  more  mercenary  tyrants  than  theirs."  Many 
societies  voted  varying  sums  of  money  in  aid  of  the 

The  Boston  strike  was  lost,  but  the  sympathy  which  it 
evoked  among  mechanics  in  various  cities  was  quickly 
turned  to  account.  Wherever  the  Boston  circular  reached, 
it  acted  like  a  spark  upon  powder.  In  Philadelphia  the 
ten-hour  movement  took  on  the  aspect  of  a  crusade.  Not 
only  the  building  trades,  as  in  Boston,  but  most  of  the 
mechanical  branches  were  involved.  Street  parades  and 
mass  meetings  were  held.  The  public  press,  both  friendly 
and  hostile,  discussed  it  at  length.  Work  was  suspended 
and  after  but  a  brief  "standout"  the  whole  ended  in  a 
complete  victory  for  the  workingmen.  Unskilled  laborers, 
too,  struck  for  the  ten-hour  day  and,  in  the  attempt  to 
prevent  others  from  taking  their  jobs,  riotous  scenes 


occurred  which  attracted  considerable  attention.  The 
movement  proved  so  irresistible  that  the  Common  Council 
announced  a  ten-hour  day  for  public  servants.  Lawyers, 
physicians,  merchants,  and  politicians  took  up  the  cause 
of  the  workingmen.  On  June  8  the  master  carpenters 
granted  the  ten-hour  day  and  by  June  22  the  victory  was 

The  victory  in  Philadelphia  was  so  overwhelming  and 
was  given  so  much  publicity  that  its  influence  extended 
to  many  smaller  towns.  In  fact,  the  ten-hour  system, 
which  remained  in  vogue  in  this  country  in  the  skilled 
trades  until  the  nineties,  dates  largely  from  this  move- 
ment in  the  middle  of  the  thirties. 

The  great  advance  in  the  cost  of  living  during  1835 
and  1836  compelled  an  extensive  movement  for  higher 
wages.  Prices  had  in  some  instances  more  than  doubled. 
Most  of  these  strikes  were  hastily  undertaken.  Prices, 
of  course,  were  rising  rapidly  but  the  societies  were  new 
and  lacked  balance.  A  strike  in  one  trade  was  an  ex- 
ample to  others  to  strike.  In  a  few  instances,  however, 
there  was  considerable  planning  and  reserve. 

The  strike  epidemic  affected  even  the  girls  who  worked 
in  the  textile  factories.  The  first  strike  of  factory  girls 
on  record  had  occurred  in  Dover,  New  Hampshire,  in 
1828.  A  factory  strike  in  Paterson,  New  Jersey,  which 
occurred  in  the  same  year,  occasioned  the  first  recorded 
calling  out  of  militia  to  quell  labor  disturbances.  There 
the  strikers  were,  however,  for  the  most  part  men.  But 
the  factory  strike  which  attracted  the  greatest  public 
attention  was  the  Lowell  strike  in  February,  1834,  against 
a  15  per  cent,  reduction  in  wages.  The  strike  was  short 
and  unsuccessful,  notwithstanding  that  800  striking  girls 
at  first  exhibited  a  determination  to  carry  their  struggle 


to  the  end.  It  appears  that  public  opinion  in  New  Eng- 
land was  disagreeably  impressed  by  this  early  manifesta- 
tion of  feminism.  Another  notable  factory  strike  was  one 
in  Paterson  in  July  1835.  Unlike  similar  strikes,  it  had 
been  preceded  by  an  organization.  The  chief  demand  was 
the  eleven-hour  day.  The  strike  involved  twenty  mills 
and  2000  persons.  Two  weeks  later  the  employers  reduced 
hours  from  thirteen  and  a  half  to  twelve  hours  for  five 
days  and  to  nine  hours  on  Saturday.  This  broke  the 
strike.  The  character  of  the  agitation  among  the  factory 
workers  stamps  it  as  ephemeral.  Even  more  ephemeral  was 
the  agitation  among  immigrant  laborers,  mostly  Irish, 
on  canals  and  roads,  which  usually  took  the  form  of  riots. 

As  in  the  preceding  period,  the  aggressiveness  of  the 
trade  societies  eventually  gave  rise  to  combative  masters' 
associations.  These,  goaded  by  restrictive  union  prac- 
tices, notably  the  closed  shop,  appealed  to  the  courts  for 
relief.  By  1836  employers'  associations  appeared  in 
nearly  every  trade  in  which  labor  was  aggressive;  in  New 
York  there  were  at  least  eight  and  in  Philadelphia  seven. 
In  Philadelphia,  at  the  initiative  of  the  master  carpen- 
ters and  cordwainers,  there  came  to  exist  an  informal 
federation  of  the  masters'  associations  in  the  several 

From  1829  to  1842  there  were  eight  recorded  prose- 
cutions of  labor  organizations  for  conspiracy.  The  work- 
ingmen  were  convicted  in  two  cases;  in  two  other  cases 
the  courts  sustained  demurrers  to  the  indictments;  in 
three  cases  the  defendants  were  acquitted  after  jury 
trials ;  and  the  outcome  of  one  case  is  unknown.  Finally, 
in  1842,  long  after  the  offending  societies  had  gone  out  of 
existence  under  the  stress  of  unemployment  and  depres- 
sions, the  Supreme  Judicial  Court  of  Massachusetts 


handed  down  a  decision,  which  for  forty  years  laid  to 
rest  the  doctrine  of  conspiracy  as  applied  to  labor 

The  unity  of  action  of  the  several  trades  displayed  in 
the  city  trades'  unions  engendered  before  long  a  still 
wider  solidarity  in  the  form  of  a  National  Trades'  Union. 
It  came  together  in  August  1834,  in  New  York  City  upon 
the  invitation  of  the  General  Trades'  Union  of  New  York. 
The  delegates  were  from  the  trades'  unions  of  New  York, 
Philadelphia,  Boston,  Brooklyn,  Poughkeepsie,  and 
Newark.  Ely  Moore,  then  labor  candidate  for  Congress, 
was  elected  president.  An  attempt  by  the  only  "intel- 
lectual" present,  a  Doctor  Charles  Douglass,  representing 
the  Boston  Trades'  Union,  to  strike  a  political  note  was 
immediately  squelched.  A  second  convention  was  held 
in  1835  and  a  third  one  in  1837. 

The  National  Trades'  Union  played  a  conspicuous  part 
in  securing  the  ten-hour  day  for  government  employes. 
The  victory  of  the  ten-hour  principle  in  private  employ- 
ment in  1835  generally  led  to  its  adoption  by  states  and 
municipalities.  However,  the  Federal  government  was 
slow  to  follow  the  example,  since  Federal  officials  were 
immune  from  the  direct  political  pressure  which  the  work- 
ingmen  were  able  to  use  with  advantage  upon  locally 
elected  office  holders. 

In  October  1835,  the  mechanics  employed  in  the  New 
York  and  Brooklyn  Navy  Yards  petitioned  the  Secretary 
of  the  Navy  for  a  reduction  of  the  hours  of  labor  to  ten. 
The  latter  referred  the  petition  to  the  Board  of  Navy 
Commissioners,  who  returned  the  petition  with  the  opinion 
that  it  would  be  detrimental  to  the  government  to  accede 
to  their  request.  This  forced  the  matter  into  the  atten- 
1  For  a  detailed  discussion  of  these  trials  see  below,  149-152. 


tion  of  the  National  Trades'  Union.  At  its  second  con- 
vention in  1835  it  decided  to  petition  Congress  for  a  ten- 
hour  day  for  employes  on  government  works.  The  peti- 
tion was  introduced  by  the  labor  Congressman  from  New 
York,  Ely  Moore.  Congress  curtly  replied,  however,  that 
it  was  not  a  matter  for  legislation  but  "that  the  persons 
employed  should  redress  their  own  grievances."  With 
Congress  in  such  a  mood,  the  hopes  of  the  workingmen 
turned  to  the  President. 

A  first  step  was  made  in  the  summer  of  1836,  when  the 
workers  in  the  Navy  Yard  at  Philadelphia  struck  for  a 
ten-hour  day  and  appealed  to  President  Jackson  for  re- 
lief. They  would  have  nothing  further  to  do  with  Con- 
gress. They  had  supported  President  Jackson  in  his 
fight  against  the  United  States  Bank  and  now  sought  a 
return  favor.  At  a  town  meeting  of  "citizens,  mechanics, 
and  working  men,"  a  committee  was  appointed  to  lay  the 
issue  before  him.  He  proved  indeed  more  responsive  than 
Congress  and  ordered  the  ten-hour  system  established. 

But  the  order  applied  only  to  the  localities  where  the 
strike  occurred.  The  agitation  had  been  chiefly  local. 
Besides  Philadelphia  and  New  York  the  mechanics  se- 
cured the  ten-hour  day  in  Baltimore  and  Annapolis,  but 
in  the  District  of  Columbia  and  elsewhere  they  were  still 
working  twelve  or  fourteen  hours.  In  other  words,  the 
ten-hour  day  was  secured  only  where  trade  societies 

But  the  organized  labor  movement  did  not  rest  with 
a  partial  success.  The  campaign  of  pressure  on  the 
President  went  on.  Finally,  although  somewhat  belatedly, 
President  Van  Buren  issued  on  March  31,  1840,  the  fa- 
mous executive  order  establishing  the  ten-hour  day  on 
government  work  without  a  reduction  in  wages. 


The  victory  came  after  the  National  Trades'  Union 
had  gone  out  of  existence  and  should  be,  more  correctly, 
correlated  with  a  labor  political  movement.  Early  in 
1837  came  a  financial  panic.  The  industrial  depression 
wiped  out  in  a  short  time  every  form  of  labor  organization 
from  the  trade  societies  to  the  National  Trades'  Union. 
Labor  stood  defenseless  against  the  economic  storm.  In 
this  emergency  it  turned  to  politics  as  a  measure  of  de- 

The  political  dissatisfaction  assumed  the  form  of  hos- 
tility towards  banks  and  corporations  in  general.  The 
workingmen  held  the  banks  responsible  for  the  existing 
anarchy  in  currency,  from  which  they  suffered  both  as 
consumers  and  producers.  Moreover,  they  felt  that  there 
was  something  uncanny  and  threatening  about  corpora- 
tions with  their  continuous  existence  and  limited  liability. 
Even  while  their  attention  had  been  engrossed  by  trade 
unionism,  the  workingmen  were  awake  to  the  issue  of 
monopoly.  Together  with  their  employers  they  had 
therefore  supported  Jackson  in  his  assault  upon  the 
largest  "monster"  of  them  all — the  Bank  of  the  United 
States.  The  local  organizations  of  the  Democratic  party, 
however,  did  not  always  remain  true  to  faith.  In  such 
circumstances  the  workingmen,  again  acting  in  conjunc- 
tion with  their  masters,  frequently  extended  their  support 
to  the  "insurgent"  anti-monopoly  candidates  in  the  Demo- 
cratic party  conventions.  Such  a  revolt  took  place  in 
Philadelphia  in  1835;  and  in  New  York,  although  Tam- 
many had  elected  Ely  Moore,  the  President  of  the  Gen- 
eral Trades'  Union  of  New  York,  to  Congress  in  1834, 
a  similar  revolt  occurred.  The  upshot  was  a  triumphant 
return  of  the  rebels  into  the  fold  of  Tammany  in  1837. 
During  the  next  twenty  years,  Tammany  came  nearer 


to  being  a  workingmen's  organization  than  at  any  other 
time  in  its  career. 

(4)  The  Long  Depression,  1837-1862 

The  twenty-five  years  which  elapsed  from  1837  to  1862 
form  a  period  of  business  depression  and  industrial  dis- 
organization only  briefly  interrupted  during  1850-1853 
by  the  gold  discoveries  in  California.  The  aggressive 
unions  of  the  thirties  practically  disappeared.  With  in- 
dustry disorganized,  trade  unionism,  or  the  effort  to  pro- 
tect the  standard  of  living  by  means  of  strikes,  was  out  of 
question.  As  the  prospect  for  immediate  amelioration  be- 
came dimmed  by  circumstances,  an  opportunity  arrived 
for  theories  and  philosophies  of  radical  social  reform. 
Once  the  sun  with  its  life-giving  heat  has  set,  one  begins 
to  see  the  cold  and  distant  stars. 

The  uniqueness  of  the  period  of  the  forties  in  the  labor 
movement  proceeds  not  only  from  the  large  volume  of  star- 
gazing, but  also  from  the  accompanying  fact  that,  for 
the  first  and  only  time  in  American  history,  the  labor 
movement  was  dominated  by  men  and  women  from  the 
educated  class,  the  "intellectuals,"  who  thus  served  in 
the  capacity  of  expert  astrologers. 

And  there  was  no  lack  of  stars  in  the  heaven  of  social 
reform  to  occupy  both  intellectual  and  wage  earner.  First, 
there  was  the  efficiency  scheme  of  the  followers  of  Charles 
Fourier,  the  French  socialist,  or,  as  they  preferred  to 
call  themselves,  the  Associationists.  Theirs  was  a  pro- 
posal aiming  directly  to  meet  the  issue  of  the  prevailing 
industrial  disorganization  and  wasteful  competition.  Al- 
bert Brisbane,  Horace  Greeley,  and  the  Brook  Farm 
enthusiasts  and  "Associationists"  of  the  forties,  made  fa- 
mous by  their  intimate  association  with  Ralph  Waldo 


Emerson,  had  much  in  common  with  the  present-day  effi- 
ciency engineers.  This  "old"  efficiency  of  theirs,  like 
the  new  one,  was  chiefly  concerned  with  increasing  the  pro- 
duction of  wealth  through  the  application  of  the  "nat- 
ural" laws  of  human  nature.  With  the  enormous  in- 
crease in  production  to  be  brought  about  by  "Fourier- 
ism"  and  "Association,"  the  question  of  justice  in  distri- 
bution was  relegated  to  a  secondary  place.  Where  they 
differed  from  the  new  efficiency  was  in  method,  for  they  be- 
lieved efficiency  would  be  attained  if  only  the  human  in- 
stincts or  "passions"  were  given  free  play,  while  the 
efficiency  engineers  of  today  trust  less  to  unguided  in- 
stinct and  more  to  "scientific  management"  of  human 

Midway  between  trade  unionism  and  the  simon-pure, 
idealistic  reform  philosophies  stood  producers*  and  con- 
sumers* cooperation.  It  had  the  merit  of  being  a  prac- 
tical program  most  suitable  to  a  time  of  depression,  while 
on  its  spiritual  side  it  did  not  fail  to  satisfy  the  loftiest 
intellectual.  It  was  the  resultant  of  the  two  most  potent 
forces  which  acted  upon  the  movement  of  the  forties, 
the  pressure  of  an  inadequate  income  of  the  wage  earner 
and  the  influence  of  the  intellectuals.  During  no  other 
period  has  there  been,  relatively  speaking,  so  much  effort 
along  that  line. 

Although,  as  we  shall  see,  the  eighties  were  properly  the 
era  of  producers'  cooperation  on  a  large  scale,  the  self- 
governing  workshop  had  always  been  familiar  to  the 
American  labor  movement.  The  earliest  attempt,  as  far 
as  we  have  knowledge,  occurred  in  Philadelphia  in  1791, 
when  the  house  carpenters  out  on  strike  offered  by  way 
of  retaliation  against  their  employers  to  undertake  con- 
tracts at  25  per  cent,  less  than  the  price  charged  by  the 


masters.  Fourteen  years  later,  in  1806,  the  journeymen 
cordwainers  of  the  same  city,  following  their  conviction 
in  court  on  the  charge  of  conspiracy  brought  in  by  their 
masters,  opened  up  a  cooperative  shoe  warehouse  and 
store.  As  a  rule  the  workingmen  took  up  productive  co- 
operation when  they  had  failed  in  strikes. 

In  1836  many  of  the  trade  societies  began  to  lose 
their  strikes  and  turned  to  cooperation.  The  cordwainers 
working  on  ladies'  shoes  entered  upon  a  strike  for  higher 
wages  in  March  1836,  and  opened  three  months  later  a 
"manufactory"  or  a  warehouse  of  their  own.  The  hand- 
loom  weavers  in  two  of  the  suburbs  of  Philadelphia  started 
cooperative  associations  at  the  same  time.  At  the  end  of 
1836  the  hand-loom  weavers  of  Philadelphia  proper  had 
two  cooperative  shops  and  were  planning  to  open  a  third. 
In  New  Brunswick,  New  Jersey,  the  journeymen  cord- 
wainers opened  a  shop  after  an  unsuccessful  strike  early 
in  1836;  likewise  the  tailors  of  Cincinnati,  St.  Louis,  and 
Louisville.  In  New  York  the  carpenters  had  done  so  al- 
ready in  1833,  and  the  painters  of  New  York  and  Brook- 
lyn opened  their  shops  in  1837. 

Before  long  the  spirit  became  so  contagious  that  the 
Trades'  Union  of  Philadelphia,  the  city  federation  of 
trade  societies,  was  obliged  to  take  notice.  Early  in  1837 
a  conference  of  about  200  delegates  requested  each  trade 
society  to  submit  estimates  for  a  shop  to  employ  ten  mem- 
bers. However,  further  steps  were  prevented  by  the  finan- 
cial panic  and  business  depression. 

The  forties  witnessed  several  similar  attempts.  When 
the  iron  molders  of  Cincinnati  failed  to  win  a  strike  in 
the  autumn  of  1847,  a  few  of  their  number  collected  what 
funds  they  could  and  organized  a  sort  of  joint-stock  com- 
pany which  they  called  "The  Journeymen  Molders'  Union 


Foundry."  Two  local  philanthropists  erected  their 
buildings.  In  Pittsburgh  a  group  of  puddlers  tried  to 
raise  money  by  selling  stock  to  anyone  who  wished  to  take 
an  interest  in  their  cooperative  venture. 

The  cooperative  ventures  multiplied  in  1850  and  1851, 
following  a  widespread  failure  of  strikes  and  were  entered 
upon  with  particular  readiness  by  the  German  immigrants. 
Among  the  Germans  was  an  attitude  towards  producers' 
cooperation,  based  more  nearly  on  general  principles 
than  the  practical  exigencies  of  a  strike.  Fresh  from  the 
scenes  of  revolutions  in  Europe,  they  were  more  given  to 
dreams  about  reconstructing  society  and  more  trustful 
in  the  honesty  and  integrity  of  their  leaders.  The  co- 
operative movement  among  the  Germans  was  identified 
with  the  name  of  Wilhelm  Weitling,  the  well-known  Ger- 
man communist,  who  settled  in  America  about  1850.  This 
movement  centered  in  and  around  New  York.  The  co- 
operative principle  met  with  success  among  the  English- 
speaking  people  only  outside  the  larger  cities.  In  Buf- 
falo, after  an  unsuccessful  strike,  the  tailors  formed  an 
association  with  a  membership  of  108  and  in  October 
1850,  were  able  to  give  employment  to  80  of  that  num- 

Again,  following  an  unsuccessful  Pittsburgh  strike  of 
iron  founders  in  1849,  about  a  dozen  of  the  strikers  went 
to  Wheeling,  Virginia,  each  investing  $3000,  and  opened 
a  cooperative  foundry  shop.  Two  other  foundries  were 
opened  on  a  similar  basis  in  Stetsonville,  Ohio,  and  Sharon, 
Pennsylvania.  These  associations  of  iron  founders,  how- 
ever, might  better  be  called  association  of  small  capitalists 
or  master-workmen. 

During  the  forties,  consumers'  or  distributive  coopera- 
tion was  also  given  a  trial.  The  early  history  of  con- 


sinners'  cooperation  is  but  fragmentary  and,  so  far  as 
we  know,  the  first  cooperative  attempt  which  had  for  its 
exclusive  aim  "competence  to  purchaser"  was  made  in 
Philadelphia  early  in  1829.  A  store  was  established 
on  North  Fifth  Street,  which  sold  goods  at  wholesale 
prices  to  members,  who  paid  twenty  cents  a  month  for 
its  privileges. 

In  1831  distributive  cooperation  was  much  discussed 
in  Boston  by  a  "New  England  Association  of  Farmers, 
Mechanics,  and  Other  Working  Men."  A  half  dozen  co- 
operative attempts  are  mentioned  in  the  Cooperator, 
published  in  Utica  in  1832,  but  only  in  the  case  of  the 
journeymen  cordwainers  of  Lynn  do  we  discover  an  under- 
taking which  can  with  certainty  be  considered  as  an  effort 
to  achieve  distributive  cooperation.  Several  germs  of 
cooperative  effort  are  found  between  1833  and  1845,  but 
all  that  is  known  about  them  is  that  their  promoters 
sought  to  effect  a  saving  by  the  purchase  of  goods  in 
large  quantities  which  were  then  broken  up  and  distributed 
at  a  slight  advance  above  original  cost  in  order  to  meet 
expenses.  The  managers  were  unpaid,  the  members'  in- 
terest in  the  business  was  not  maintained,  and  the  stores 
soon  failed,  or  passed  into  the  possession  of  private 

It  was  the  depression  of  1846—1849  which  supplied  the 
movement  for  distributive  cooperation  with  the  needed 
stimulus,  especially  in  New  England.  Although  the  mat- 
ter was  discussed  in  New  York,  New  Jersey,  Pennsyl- 
vania, Maryland,  and  even  as  far  west  as  Ohio  and  Illinois, 
yet  in  none  of  the  industrial  centers  of  these  States,  ex- 
cept perhaps  in  New  York,  was  it  put  into  successful 

In   New   England,   however,   the   conditions   were   ex- 


ceptionally  favorable.  A  strike  movement  for  higher 
wages  during  a  partial  industrial  revival  of  1843— 1844 
had  failed  completely.  This  failure,  added  to  the  fact 
that  'women  and  girls  were  employed  under  very  unsatis- 
factory conditions,  strengthened  the  interest  of  humani- 
tarians'in  the  laboring  people  and  especially  in  coopera- 
tion as  a  possible  means  of  alleviating  their  distress. 

Under  the  stimulus  of  these  agitations,  the  New  Eng- 
land Protective  Union  was  formed  in  1845.  Until  1849, 
however,  it  bore  the  name  of  the  Working  Men's  Protec- 
tive Union.  As  often  happens,  prosperity  brought  dis- 
union and,  in  1853,  a  schism  occurred  in  the  organiza- 
tion due  to  personal  differences.  The  seceders  formed  a 
separate  organization  known  as  the  American  Protective 

The  Working  Men's  Protective  Union  embodied  a 
larger  conception  of  the  cooperative  idea  than  had  been 
expressed  before.  The  important  thought  was  that  an 
economy  of  a  few  dollars  a  year  in  the  purchase  of  com- 
modities was  a  poor  way  out  of  labor  difficulties,  but  was 
valuable  only  as  a  preparation  for  something  better. 

Though  the  resources  of  these  laborers  were  small,  they 
began  the  work  with  great  hopes.  This  business,  starting 
so  unpretentiously,  assumed  larger  and  increasing  pro- 
portions until  in  October,  1852,  the  Union  embraced  403 
divisions  of  which  167  reported  a  capital  of  $241,712  and 
165  of  these  announced  annual  sales  amounting  to  $1,- 
696,825.  Though  the  schism  of  1853,  mentioned  above, 
weakened  the  body,  the  agent  of  the  American  Protec- 
tive Union  claimed  for  the  divisions  comprising  it  sales 
aggregating  in  value  over  nine  and  one-fourth  millions 
dollars  in  the  seven  years  ending  in  1859. 

It  is  not  possible  to  tell  what  might  have  been  the  out- 


come  of  this  cooperative  movement  had  the  peaceful  de- 
velopment of  the  country  remained  uninterrupted.  As  it 
happened,  the  disturbed  era  of  the  Civil  War  witnessed 
the  near  annihilation  of  all  workingmen's  cooperation. 
It  is  not  difficult  to  see  the  causes  which  led  to  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  still  tender  plant.  Men  left  their  homes  for 
the  battle  field,  foreigners  poured  into  New  England 
towns  and  replaced  the  Americans  in  the  shops,  while 
share-holders  frequently  became  frightened  at  the  state 
of  trade  and  gladly  saw  the  entire  cooperative  enterprise 
pass  into  the  hands  of  the  storekeeper. 

This  first  American  cooperative  movement  on  a  large 
scale  resembled  the  British  movement  in  many  respects, 
namely  open  membership,  equal  voting  by  members  ir- 
respective of  number  of  shares,  cash  sales  and  federation 
of  societies  for  wholesale  purchases,  but  differed  in  that 
goods  were  sold  to  members  nearly  at  cost  rather  than 
at  the  market  price.  Dr.  James  Ford  in  his  Cooperation 
in  New  England,  Urban  and  Rural,1  describes  two  sur- 
vivals from  this  period,  the  Central  Union  Association 
of  New  Bedford,  Massachusetts,  founded  in  1848,  and 
the  Acushnet  Cooperative  Association,  also  of  New  Bed- 
ford, which  began  business  in  1849. 

But  the  most  characteristic  labor  movement  of  the 
forties  was  a  resurgence  of  the  old  Agrarianism  of  the 

Skidmore's  "equal  division"  of  all  property  appealed 
to  the  workingmen  of  New  York  because  it  seemed  to  be 
based  on  equality  of  opportunity.  One  of  Skidmore's 
temporary  associates,  a  Welshman  by  the  name  of 
George  Henry  Evans,  drew  from  him  an  inspiration  for 
a  new  kind  of  agrarianism  to  which  few  could  object. 
1  Published  In  1916  by  the  Russell  Sage  Foundation,  pp.  16-18. 


This  new  doctrine  was  a  true  Agrarianism,  since  it  fol- 
lowed in  the  steps  of  the  original  "Agrarians,"  the  broth- 
ers Gracchi  in  ancient  Rome.  Like  the  Gracchi,  Evans 
centered  his  plan  around  the  "ager  publicum" — the  vast 
American  public  domain.  Evans  began  his  agitation 
about  1844. 

Man's  right  to  life,  according  to  Evans,  logically  im- 
plied his  right  to  use  the  materials  of  nature  necessary 
for  being.  For  practical  reasons  he  would  not  interfere 
with  natural  resources  which  have  already  passed  under 
private  ownership.  Evans  proposed  instead  that  Con- 
gress give  each  would-be  settler  land  for  a  homestead  free 
of  charge. 

As  late  as  1852  debaters  in  Congress  pointed  out  that 
in  the  preceding  sixty  years  only  100,000,000  acres  of 
the  public  lands  had  been  sold  and  that  1,400,000,000 
acres  still  remained  at  the  disposal  of  the  government. 
Estimates  of  the  required  time  to  dispose  of  this  residuum 
at  the  same  rate  of  sale  varied  from  400  or  500  to  900 
years.  With  the  exaggerated  views  prevalent,  it  is  no 
wonder  that  Evans  believed  that  the  right  of  the  indi- 
vidual to  as  much  land  as  his  right  to  live  calls  for  would 
remain  a  living  right  for  as  long  a  period  in  the  future 
as  a  practical  statesman  may  be  required  to  take  into 

The  consequences  of  free  homesteads  were  not  hard  to 
picture.  The  landless  wage  earners  could  be  furnished 
transportation  and  an  outfit,  for  the  money  spent  for 
poor  relief  would  be  more  profitably  expended  in  sending 
the  poor  to  the  land.  Private  societies  and  trade  unions, 
when  laborers  were  too  numerous,  could  aid  in  transport- 
ing the  surplus  to  the  waiting  homesteads  and  towns 
that  would  grow  up.  With  the  immobility  of  labor  thus 


offering  no  serious  obstacle  to  the  execution  of  the  plan, 
the  wage  earners  of  the  East  would  have  the  option  of 
continuing  to  work  for  wages  or  of  taking  up  their  share 
of  the  vacant  lands.  Moreover,  mechanics  could  set  up 
as  independent  producers  in  the  new  settlements.  Enough 
at  least  would  go  West  to  force  employers  to  offer 
better  wages  and  shorter  hours.  Those  unable  to  meet 
the  expenses  of  moving  would  profit  by  higher  wages  at 
home.  An  equal  opportunity  to  go  on  land  would  benefit 
both  pioneer  and  stay-at-home. 

But  Evans  would  go  still  further  in  assuring  equality 
of  opportunity.  He  would  make  the  individual's  right  to 
the  resources  of  nature  safe  against  the  creditors  through 
a  law  exempting  homesteads  from  attachment  for  debts 
and  even  against  himself  by  making  the  homestead  in- 
alienable. Moreover  to  assure  that  right  to  the  American 
people  in  perpetuo  he  would  prohibit  future  disposal  of 
the  public  land  in  large  blocks  to  moneyed  purchasers  as 
practiced  by  the  government  heretofore.  Thus  the  pro- 
gram of  the  new  agrarianism :  free  homesteads,  homestead 
exemption,  and  land  limitation. 

Evans  had  a  plan  of  political  action,  which  was  as 
unique  as  his  economic  program.  His  previous  political 
experiences  with  the  New  York  Workingmen's  party  had 
taught  him  that  a  minority  party  could  not  hope  to  win 
by  its  own  votes  and  that  the  politicans  cared  more  for 
offices  than  for  measures.  They  would  endorse  any  mea- 
sure which  was  supported  by  voters  who  held  the  balance 
of  power.  His  plan  of  action  was,  therefore,  to  ask  all 
candidates  to  pledge  their  support  to  his  measures.  In 
exchange  for  such  a  pledge,  the  candidates  would  re- 
ceive the  votes  of  the  workingmen.  In  case  neither  candi- 
date would  sign  the  pledge,  it  might  be  necessary  to  nomi- 


nate  an  independent  as  a  warning  to  future  candidates ; 
but  not  as  an  indication  of  a  new  party  organization. 

Evans'  ideas  quickly  won  the  adherence  of  the  few  labor 
papers  then  existing.  Horace  Greeley's  New  York 
Tribune  endorsed  the  homestead  movement  as  early  as 
1845.  The  next  five  years  witnessed  a  remarkable  spread 
of  the  ideas  of  the  free  homestead  movement  in  the  press 
of  the  country.  It  was  estimated  in  1845  that  2000 
papers  were  published  in  the  United  States  and  that  in 
1850,  600  of  these  supported  land  reform. 

Petitions  and  memorials  having  proved  of  little  avail, 
the  land  reformers  tried  Evans'  pet  plan  of  bargaining 
votes  for  the  support  of  their  principles.  Tammany  was 
quick  to  start  the  bidding.  In  May,  1851,  a  mass-meeting 
was  held  at  Tammany  Hall  "of  all  those  in  favor  of  land 
and  other  industrial  reform,  to  be  made  elements  in  the 
Presidential  contest  of  1852."  A  platform  was  adopted 
which  proclaimed  man's  right  to  the  soil  and  urged  that 
freedom  of  the  public  lands  be  endorsed  by  the  Demo- 
cratic party.  Senator  Isaac  A.  Walker  of  Wisconsin 
was  nominated  as  the  candidate  of  the  party  for 

For  a  while  the  professional  politician  triumphed  over 
the  too  trusting  workingman  reformer.  But  the  cause 
found  strong  allies  in  the  other  classes  of  the  American 
community.  From  the  poor  whites  of  the  upland  region 
of  the  South  came  a  similar  demand  formulated  by  the 
Tennessee  tailor,  Andrew  Johnson,  later  President  of  the 
United  States,  who  introduced  his  first  homestead  bill  in 
1845.  From  the  Western  pioneers  and  settlers  came  the 
demand  for  increased  population  and  development  of  re- 
sources, leading  both  to  homesteads  for  settlers  and  land 
grants  for  railways.  The  opposition  came  from  manu- 


facturers  and  landowners  of  the  East  and  from  the 
Southern  slave  owners.  The  West  and  East  finally  com- 
bined and  the  policy  of  the  West  prevailed,  but  not  before 
the  South  had  seceded  from  the  Union. 

Not  the  entire  reform  was  accepted.  The  Western 
spirit  dominated.  The  homestead  law,  as  finally  adopted 
in  1862,  granted  one  hundred  and  sixty  acres  as  a  free 
gift  to  every  settler.  But  the  same  Congress  launched 
upon  a  policy  of  extensive  land  grants  to  railways.  The 
homestead  legislation  doubtless  prevented  great  estates 
similar  to  those  which  sprang  of  a  different  policy  of  the 
Australian  colonies,  but  did  not  carry  out  the  broad  prin- 
ciples of  inalienability  and  land  limitation  of  the  original 

Their  principle  of  homestead  exemption,  however,  is 
now  almost  universally  adopted.  Thus  the  homestead  agi- 
tation begun  by  Evans  and  a  group  of  wage  earners  and 
farmers  in  1844  was  carried  to  victory,  though  to  an  in- 
complete victory.  It  contained  a  fruitful  lesson  to  labor 
in  politics.  The  vested  interests  in  the  East  were  seen 
ultimately  to  capitulate  before  a  popular  movement  which 
at  no  time  aspired  toward  political  power  and  office,  but, 
concentrating  on  one  issue,  endeavored  instead  to  per- 
meate with  its  ideas  the  public  opinion  of  the  country  at 

Of  all  the  "isms"  so  prevalent  during  the  forties, 
"Agrarianism"  alone  came  close  to  modern  socialism,  as 
it  alone  advocated  class  struggle  and  carried  it  into  the 
political  field,  although,  owing  to  the  peculiarity  of  the 
American  party  structure,  it  urged  a  policy  of  "reward 
your  friends,  and  punish  your  enemies"  rather  than  an 
out  and  out  labor  party.  It  is  noteworthy  that  of  all 
social  reform  movements  of  the  forties  Agrarianism  alone 


was  not  initiated  by  the  intellectuals.  On  the  other  hand, 
another  movement  for  legislative  reform,  namely  the  short- 
er-hour movement  for  women  and  children  working  in  the 
mills  and  factories,  was  entirely  managed  by  humani- 
tarians. Its  philosophy  was  the  furthest  removed  from 
the  class  struggle  idea. 

For  only  a  short  year  or  two  did  prosperity  show  it- 
self from  behind  the  clouds  to  cause  a  mushroom  growth 
of  trade  unions,  once  in  1850-1851  and  again  in  1853- 
1854,  following  the  gold  discoveries  in  California.  Dur- 
ing these  few  years  unionism  disentangled  itself  from  hu- 
manitarianism  and  cooperationism  and  came  out  in  its 
wholly  modern  form  of  restrictive  craft  unionism,  only 
to  be  again  suppressed  by  the  business  depressions  that 
preceded  and  followed  the  panic  of  1857.  Considered 
as  a  whole,  however,  the  period  of  the  forties  and  fifties 
was  the  zenith  in  American  history  of  theories  of  social 
reform,  of  "panaceas,"  of  humanitarianism. 

The  trade  union  wave  of  the  fifties  was  so  short  lived 
and  the  trade  unionists  were  so  preoccupied  with  the 
pressing  need  of  advancing  their  wages  to  keep  pace  with 
the  soaring  prices  caused  by  the  influx  of  California  gold, 
that  we  miss  the  tendency  which  was  so  strong  in  the  thir- 
ties to  reach  out  for  a  wider  basis  of  labor  organization 
in  city  trades*  unions,  and  ultimately  in  a  National 
Trades'  Union.  On  the  other  hand,  the  fifties  foreshad- 
owed a  new  form  of  expansion  of  labor  organization — 
the  joining  together  in  a  nation-wide  organization  of  all 
local  unions  of  one  trade.  The  printers  *  organized  na- 

1  The  printers  had  organized  nationally  for  the  first  time  in  1836, 
but  the  organization  lasted  less  than  two  years;  likewise  the  cord- 
wainers  or  shoemakers.  But  we  must  keep  in  mind  that  what  consti- 
tuted national  organization  in  the  thirties  would  pass  only  for 
regional  or  sectional  organization  in  later  years. 


tionally  in  1850,  the  locomotive  engineers  and  the  hat- 
finishers  in  1854;  and  the  iron  molders,  and  the  machin- 
ists and  blacksmiths  in  1859 ;  in  addition  there  were  at 
least  a  half  dozen  less  successful  attempts  in  other  trades. 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879 

The  few  national  trade  unions  which  were  formed  at 
the  close  of  the  fifties  did  not  constitute  by  themselves 
a  labor  movement.  It  needed  the  industrial  prosperity 
caused  by  the  price  inflation  of  the  Civil  War  time  to 
bring  forth  again  a  mass  movement  of  labor. 

We  shall  say  little  of  labor's  attitude  towards  the 
question  of  war  and  peace  before  the  War  had  started. 
Like  many  other  citizens  of  the  North  and  the  Border 
States  the  handful  of  organized  workers  favored  a  com- 
promise. They  held  a  labor  convention  in  Philadelphia, 
in  which  a  great  labor  leader  of  the  sixties,  William  H. 
Sylvis,  President  of  the  International  Holders'  Union, 
took  a  prominent  part  and  pronounced  in  favor  of  the 
compromise  solution  advanced  by  Congressman  Critten- 
den  of  Kentucky.  But  no  sooner  had  Fort  Sumter  been 
fired  upon  by  the  secessionists  than  labor  rallied  to  the 
support  of  the  Federal  Union.  Entire  local  unions  en- 
listed at  the  call  of  President  Lincoln,  and  Sylvis  him- 
self assisted  in  recruiting  a  company  composed  of  molders. 

The  first  effect  of  the  War  was  a  paralysis  of  business 
and  an  increase  of  unemployment.  The  existing  labor 
organizations  nearly  all  went  to  the  wall.  The  period 
of  industrial  stagnation,  however,  lasted  only  until  the 
middle  of  1862. 

The  legal  tender  acts  of  1862  and  1863  authorized  the 
issue  of  paper  currency  of  "greenbacks"  to  the  amount 


THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       43 

of  $1,050,000,000,  and  immediately  prices  began  to  soar. 
For  the  next  sixteen  years,  namely  until  1879,  when  the 
government  resumed  the  redemption  of  greenbacks  in 
gold,  prices  of  commodities  and  labor  expressed  in  terms 
of  paper  money  showed  varying  degrees  of  inflation; 
hence  the  term  "greenback"  period.  During  the  War  the 
advance  in  prices  was  due  in  part  to  the  extraordinary 
demand  by  the  government  for  the  supply  of  the  army 
and,  of  course,  to  speculation. 

In  July  1863,  retail  prices  were  43  per  cent,  above 
those  of  1860  and  wages  only  12  per  cent,  above;  in 
July  1864,  retail  prices  rose  to  70  per  cent,  and  wages 
to  30  per  cent,  above  1860;  and  in  July  1865,  prices  rose 
to  76  per  cent,  and  wages  only  to  50  per  cent,  above 
the  level  of  1860.  The  unequal  pace  of  the  price  move- 
ment drove  labor  to  organize  along  trade-union  lines. 

The  order  observed  in  the  thirties  was  again  followed 
out.  First  came  a  flock  of  local  trade  unions ;  these  soon 
combined  in  city  centrals — or  as  they  came  to  be  called, 
trades*  assemblies — paralleling  the  trades'  union  of  the 
thirties ;  and  lastly,  came  an  attempt  to  federate  the  sev- 
eral trades'  assemblies  into  an  International  Industrial 
Assembly  of  North  America.  Local  trade  unions  were  or- 
ganized literally  in  every  trade  beginning  in  the  second 
half  of  1862.  The  first  trades'  assembly  was  formed  in 
Rochester,  New  York,  in  March  1863;  and  before  long 
there  was  one  in  every  town  of  importance.  The  Inter- 
national Industrial  Assembly  was  attempted  in  1864, 
but  failed  to  live  up  to  the  expectations:  The  time  had 
passed  for  a  national  federation  of  city  centrals.  As  in 
the  thirties  the  spread  of  unionism  over  the  breadth  of  the 
land  called  out  as  a  counterpart  a  widespread  movement 
of  employers'  associations.  The  latter  differed,  however, 


from  their  predecessors  in  the  thirties  in  that  they  made 
little  use  of  the  courts  in  their  fight  against  the  unions. 

The  growth  of  the  national  trade  unions  was  a  true 
index  of  the  condition  of  business.  Four  were  organized 
in  1864  as  compared  to  two  organized  in  1863,  none  in 
1862,  and  one  in  1861.  During  1865,  which  marked  the 
height  of  the  intense  business  activity,  six  more  national 
unions  were  organized.  In  1866  industry  entered  upon 
a  period  of  depression,  which  reached  its  lowest  depth  in 
1867  and  continued  until  1869.  Accordingly,  not  a 
single  national  union  was  organized  in  1866  and  only  one 
in  1867.  In  1868  two  new  national  labor  unions  were 
organized.  In  1869  two  more  unions  were  formed — a 
total  of  seven  for  the  four  depressed  years,  compared  with 
ten  in  the  preceding  two  prosperous  years.  In  the  sum- 
mer of  1870  business  became  good  and  remained  good  for 
approximately  three  years.  Nine  new  national  unions 
appeared  in  these  three  years.  These  same  years  are 
marked  also  by  a  growth  of  the  unions  previously  organ- 
ized. For  instance,  the  machinists  and  blacksmiths,  with 
only  1500  members  in  1870,  had  18,000  in  1873.  Other 
unions  showed  similar  gains. 

An  estimate  of  the  total  trade  union  membership  at 
any  one  time  (in  view  of  the  total  lack  of  reliable  statis- 
tics) would  be  extremely  hazardous.  The  New  York 
Herald  estimated  it  in  August  1869,  to  be  about  170,000. 
A  labor  leader  claimed  at  the  same  time  that  the  total  was 
as  high  as  600,000.  Probably  300,000  would  be  a  con- 
servative estimate  for  the  time  immediately  preceding  the 
panic  of  1873. 

Although  the  strength  of  labor  was  really  the  strength 
of  the  national  trade  unions,  especially  during  the  de- 
pression of  the  later  sixties,  far  greater  attention  was  at- 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       45 

tracted  outside  as  well  as  inside  the  labor  movement  by 
the  National  Labor  Union,  a  loosely  built  federation  of 
national  trade  unions,  city  trades*  assemblies,  local  trade 
unions,  and  reform  organizations  of  various  descriptions, 
from  philosophical  anarchists  to  socialists  and  woman 
suffragists.  The  National  Labor  Union  did  not  excel  in 
practical  activity,  but  it  formed  an  accurate  mirror  of 
the  aspirations  and  ideals  of  the  American  mechanics  of 
the  time  of  the  Civil  War  and  after.  During  its  six  years' 
existence  it  ran  the  gamut  of  all  important  issues  which 
agitated  the  labor  movement  of  the  time. 

The  National  Labor  Union  came  together  in  its  first 
convention  in  1866.  The  most  pressing  problem  of  the 
day  was  unemployment  due  to  the  return  of  the  demob- 
ilized soldiers  and  the  shutting  down  of  war  industries. 
The  convention  centered  on  the  demand  to  reduce  the 
working  day  to  eight  hours.  But  eight  hours  had  by  that 
time  come  to  signify  more  than  a  means  to  increase  em- 
ployment. The  eight-hour  movement  drew  its  inspira- 
tion from  an  economic  theory  advanced  by  a  self-taught 
Boston  machinist,  Ira  Steward.  And  so  naturally  did 
this  theory  flow  from  the  usual  premises  in  the  thinking 
of  the  American  workman  that  once  formulated  by  Stew- 
ard it  may  be  said  to  have  become  an  official  theory  of  the 
labor  movement. 

Steward's  doctrine  is  well  expressed  by  a  couplet  which 
was  very  popular  with  the  eight-hour  speakers  of  that 
period :  "Whether  you  work  by  the  piece  or  work  by  the 
day,  decreasing  the  hours  increases  the  pay."  Steward 
believed  that  the  amount  of  wages  is  determined  by  no 
other  factor  than  the  worker's  standard  of  living.  He 
held  that  wages  cannot  fall  below  the  standard  of  living 
not  because,  as  the  classical  economists  said,  it  would 


cause  late  marriages  and  a  reduction  in  the  supply  of 
labor,  but  solely  because  the  wage  earner  will  refuse  to 
work  for  less  than  enough  to  maintain  his  standard  of 
living.  Steward  possessed  such  abundant  faith  in  this 
purely  psychological  check  on  the  employer  that  he  made 
it  the  cornerstone  of  his  theory  of  social  progress.  Raise 
the  worker's  standard  of  living,  he  said,  and  the  employer 
will  be  immediately  forced  to  raise  wages;  no  more  can 
wages  fall  below  the  level  of  the  worker's  standard  of  liv- 
ing than  New  England  can  be  ruled  against  her  will.  The 
lever  for  raising  the  standard  of  living  was  the  eight- 
hour  day.  Increase  the  worker's  leisure  and  you  will  in- 
crease his  wants ;  increase  his  wants  and  you  will  imme- 
diately raise  his  wages.  Although  he  occasionally  tried 
to  soften  his  doctrine  by  the  argument  that  a  shorter 
work-day  not  only  does  not  decrease  but  may  actually 
increase  output,  his  was  a  distinctly  revolutionary  doc- 
trine; he  aimed  at  the  total  abolition  of  profits  through 
their  absorption  into  wages.  But  the  instrument  was 
nothing  more  radical  than  a  progressive  universal  short- 
ening the  hours. 

So  much  for  the  general  policy.  To  bring  it  to  pass 
two  alternatives  were  possible:  trade  unionism  or  legis- 
lation. Steward  chose  the  latter  as  the  more  hopeful  and 
speedy  one.  Steward  knew  that  appeals  to  the  humanity 
of  the  employers  had  largely  failed ;  efforts  to  secure  the 
reform  by  cooperation  had  failed ;  the  early  trade  unions 
had  failed;  and  there  seemed  to  be  no  recourse  left  now 
but  to  accomplish  the  reduction  of  hours  by  legislative 

In  1866  Steward  organized  the  Grand  Eight-Hour 
League  of  Massachusetts  as  a  special  propagandist  or- 
ganization of  the  eight-hour  philosophy.  The  League 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       47 

was  a  secret  organization  with  pass  words  and  obliga- 
tions, intended  as  the  central  organization  of  a  chain  of 
subordinate  leagues  in  the  State,  afterwards  to  be  created. 
Of  a  total  of  about  eighty  local  leagues  in  existence  from 
1865  to  1877,  about  twenty  were  in  Massachusetts,  eight 
elsewhere  in  New  England,  at  least  twenty-five  in  Michi- 
gan, four  or  five  in  Pennsylvania,  about  seven  in  Illinois, 
as  many  in  Wisconsin,  and  smaller  numbers  in  Missouri, 
Iowa,  Indiana,  and  California.  Michigan,  Illinois,  Iowa, 
and  Pennsylvania  had  each  a  Grand  Eight-Hour  League. 
Practically  all  of  these  organizations  disappeared  soon 
after  the  panic  of  1873. 

The  National  Labor  Union  centered  on  the  passage  of 
an  eight-hour  law  for  employes  of  the  Federal  govern- 
ment. It  was  believed,  perhaps  not  without  some  justice, 
that  the  effect  of  such  law  would  eventually  lead  to  the 
introduction  of  the  same  standard  in  private  employment 
— not  indeed  through  the  operation  of  the  law  of  supply 
and  demand,  for  it  was  realized  that  this  would  be  practi- 
cally negligible,  but  rather  through  its  contagious  effect 
on  the  minds  of  employes  and  even  employers.  It  will  be 
recalled  that,  at  the  time  of  the  ten-hour  agitation  of 
the  thirties,  the  Federal  government  had  lagged  about 
five  years  behind  private  employers  in  granting  the  de- 
manded concession.  That  in  the  sixties  the  workingmen 
chose  government  employment  as  the  entering  wedge 
shows  a  measure  of  political  self-confidence  which  the 
preceding  generation  of  workingmen  lacked. 

The  first  bill  in  Congress  was  introduced  by  Senator 
Gratz  Brown  of  Missouri  in  March  1866.  In  the  summer 
a  delegation  from  the  National  Labor  Union  was  received 
by  President  Andrew  Johnson.  The  President  pointed  to 
his  past  record  favorable  to  the  workingmen  but  refrained 


from  any  definite  promises.  Finally,  an  eight-hour  bill 
for  government  employes  was  passed  by  the  House  in 
March  1867,  and  by  the  Senate  in  June  1868.  On  June 
29,  1868,  President  Johnson  signed  it  and  it  went  into 
effect  immediately. 

The  result  of  the  eight-hour  law  was  not  all  that  the 
friends  of  the  bill  hoped.  The  various  officials  in  charge 
of  government  work  put  their  own  interpretations  upon 
it  and  there  resulted.much  diversity  in  its  observance,  and 
consequently  great  dissatisfaction.  There  seemed  to  be 
no  clear  understanding  as  to  the  intent  of  Congress  in 
enacting  the  law.  Some  held  that  the  reduction  in  work- 
ing hours  must  of  necessity  bring  with  it  a  corresponding 
reduction  in  wages.  The  officials'  view  of  the  situation 
was  given  by  Secretary  Gideon  Wells.  He  pointed  out 
that  Congress,  by  reducing  the  hours  of  labor  in  govern- 
ment work,  had  forced  upon  the  department  of  the  Navy 
the  employment  of  a  larger  number  of  men  in  order  to 
accomplish  the  necessary  work ;  and  that  at  the  same  time 
Congress  had  reduced  the  appropriation  for  that  depart- 
ment. This  had  rendered  unavoidable  a  twenty  per  cent, 
reduction  in  wages  paid  employes  in  the  Navy  Yard.  Such 
a  state  of  uncertainty  continued  four  years  longer.  At 
last  on  May  13,  1872,  President  Grant  prohibited  by 
proclamation  any  wage  reductions  in  the  execution  of  the 
law.  On  May  18,  1872,  Congress  passed  a  law  for  the 
restitution  of  back  pay. 

The  expectations  of  the  workingmen  that  the  Federal 
law  would  blaze  the  way  for  the  eight-hour  system  in 
private  employment  failed  to  materialize.  The  depression 
during  the  seventies  took  up  all  the  impetus  in  that  direc- 
tion which  the  law  may  have  generated.  Even  as  far  as 
government  work  is  concerned  forty  years  had  to  elapse 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       49 

before  its  application  could  be  rounded  out  by  extending 
it  to  contract  work  done  for  the  government  by  private 

We  have  dealt  at  length  with  this  subject  because  it 
marked  an  important  landmark.  It  demonstrated  to  the 
wage  earners  that,  provided  they  concentrated  on  a  mod- 
est object  and  kept  up  a  steady  pressure,  their  prospects 
for  success  were  not  entirely  hopeless,  hard  as  the  road 
may  seem  to  travel.  The  other  and  far  more  ambitious 
object  of  the  workingman  of  the  sixties,  that  of  enacting 
general  eight-hour  laws  in  the  several  States,  at  first 
appeared  to  be  within  easy  reach — so  yielding  political 
parties  and  State  legislatures  seemed  to  be  to  the  demands 
of  the  organized  workmen.  Yet  before  long  these  suc- 
cesses proved  to  be  entirely  illusory. 

The  year  1867  was  the  banner  year  for  such  State 
legislation.  Eight -hour  laws  were  passed  in  Illinois,  Wis- 
consin, Connecticut,  Missouri,  and  New  York.  California 
passed  such  a  law  in  1868.  In  Pennsylvania,  Michigan, 
Maryland,  and  Minnesota  bills  were  introduced  but  were 
defeated.  Two  common  features  characterized  these 
laws,  whether  enacted  or  merely  proposed  to  the  legisla- 
tures. There  were  none  which  did  not  permit  of  longer 
hours  than  those  named  in  the  law,  provided  they  were  so 
specified  in  the  contract.  A  contract  requiring  ten  or 
more  hours  a  day  was  perfectly  legal.  The  eight -hour 
day  was  the  legal  day  only  "when  the  contract  was  silent 
on  the  subject  or  where  there  is  no  express  contract  to  the 
contrary,"  as  stated  in  the  Wisconsin  law.  But  the 
greatest  weakness  was  a  lack  of  a  provision  for  enforce- 
ment. New  York's  experience  is  typical  and  character- 
istic. When  the  workingmen  appealed  to  Governor  Fen- 
ton  to  enforce  the  law,  he  replied  that  the  act  had 


received  his  official  signature  and  he  felt  that  it  "would 
be  an  unwarrantable  assumption"  on  his  part  to  take 
any  step  requiring  its  enforcement.  "Every  law,"  he 
said,  "was  obligatory  by  its  own  nature,  and  could 
derive  no  additional  force  from  any  further  act  of 

In  Massachusetts,  however,  the  workingmen  succeeded 
after  hard  and  protracted  labor  in  obtaining  an  enforce- 
able ten-hour  law  for  women — the  first  effective  law  of 
its  kind  passed  in  any  American  State.  This  law,  which 
was  passed  in  1874,  provides  that  "no  minor  under  the 
age  of  eighteen  years,  and  no  woman  over  that  age"  shall 
be  employed  more  than  ten  hours  in  one  day  or  sixty 
hours  in  any  one  week  in  any  manufacturing  establish- 
ment in  the  State.  The  penalty  for  each  violation  was 
fixed  at  fifty  dollars. 

The  repeated  disappointments  with  politics  and  legis- 
lation led  in  the  early  seventies  to  a  revival  of  faith  in 
trade  unionism.  Even  in  the  early  sixties  we  find  not  a 
few  unions,  national  and  local,  limiting  their  hours  by 
agreement  with  employers.  The  national  unions,  how- 
ever, for  the  most  part  left  the  matter  to  the  local  unions 
for  settlement  as  their  strength  or  local  conditions  might 
dictate.  In  some  cases  the  local  unions  were  advised  to 
accept  a  reduction  of  wages  in  order  to  secure  the  system, 
showing  faith  in  Steward's  theory  that  such  reduction 
could  not  be  permanent. 

The  movement  to  establish  the  eight-hour  day  through 
trade  unionism  reached  its  climax  in  the  summer  of  1872, 
when  business  prosperity  was  at  its  height.  This  year 
witnessed  in  New  York  City  a  general  eight-hour  strike. 
However,  it  succeeded  in  only  a  few  trades,  and  even 
there  the  gain  was  only  temporary,  since  it  was  lost 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       51 

during  the  years  of  depression  which  followed  the  finan- 
cial panic  of  1873. 

To  come  back  to  the  National  Labor  Union.  At  the 
second  convention  in  1867  the  .enthusiasm  was  trans- 
ferred from  eight -hour  laws  to  the  bizarre  social  reform 
philosophy  known  as  "greenbackism." 

"Greenbackism"  was,  .in  substance,  a  plan  to  give  the 
man  without  capital  an  equal  opportunity  in  business 
with  his  rich  competitor.  It  meant  taking  away  from 
bankers  and  middlemen  their  control  over  credit  and 
thereby  furnishing  credit  and  capital  through  the  aid  of 
the  government  to  the  producers  of  physical  products. 
On  its  face  greenbackism  was  a  program  of  currency  re- 
form and  derived  its  name  from  the  so-called  "greenback," 
the  paper  money  issued  during  the  Civil  War.  But  it  was 
more  than  currency  reform — it  was  industrial  democ- 

"Greenbackism"  was  the  American  counterpart  of  the 
contemporary  radicalism  of  Europe.  Its  program  had 
much  in  common  with  that  of  Lassalle  in  Germany  who 
would  have  the  state  lend  its  credit  to  cooperative  asso- 
ciations of  workingmen  in  the  confident  expectation  that 
with  such  backing  they  would  drive  private  capitalism  out 
of  existence  by  the  competitive  route.  But  greenbackism 
differed  from  the  scheme  of  Lassalle  in  that  it  would 
utilize  the  government's  enormous  Civil  War  debt,  instead 
of  its  taxing  power,  as  a  means  of  furnishing  capital  to 
labor.  This  was  to  be  done  by  reducing  the  rate  of 
interest  on  the  government  bonds  to  three  per  cent,  and 
by  making  them  convertible  into  legal  tender  currency 
and  convertible  back  into  bonds,  at  the  will  of  the  holder 
of  either.  In  other  words,  the  greenback  currency,  in- 
stead of  being,  as  it  was  at  the  time,  an  irredeemable 


promise  to  pay  in  specie,  would  be  redeemable  in  govern- 
ment bonds.  On  the  other  hand,  if  a  government  bond- 
holder could  secure  slightly  more  than  three  per  cent,  by 
lending  to  a  private  borrower,  he  would  return  his  bonds 
to  the  government,  take  out  the  corresponding  amount 
in  greenbacks  and  lend  it  to  the  producer  on  his  private 
note  or  mortgage.  This  would  involve,  of  course,  the 
possible  inflation  of  legal  tender  currency  to  the  amount 
of  outstanding  bonds.  But  inflation  was  immaterial,  since 
all  prices  would  be  affected  alike  and  meanwhile  the 
farmers,  the  workingmen,  and  their  cooperative  estab- 
lishments would  be  able  to  secure  capital  at  slightly  more 
than  three  per  cent,  instead  of  the  nine  or  twelve  per  cent, 
which  they  were  compelled  to  pay  at  the  bank.  Thereby 
they  would  be  placed  on  a  competitive  level  with  the  mid- 
dleman, and  the  wage  earner  would  be  assisted  to  escape 
the  wage  system  into  self-employment. 

Such  was  the  curious  doctrine  which  captured  the  lead- 
ers of  the  organized  wage  earners  in  1867.  The  way  had 
indeed  been  prepared  for  it  in  1866,  when  the  wage 
earners  espoused  producers*  cooperation  as  the  only  so- 
lution. But,  in  the  following  year,  1867,  they  concluded 
that  no  system  of  combination  or  cooperation  could  se- 
cure to  labor  its  natural  rights  as  long  as  the  credit 
system  enabled  non-producers  to  accumulate  wealth 
faster  than  labor  was  able  to  add  to  the  national  wealth. 
Cooperation  would  follow  "as  a  natural  consequence,"  if 
producers  could  secure  through  legislation  credit  at  a  low 
rate  of  interest.  The  government  was  to  extend  to  the 
producer  "free  capital"  in  addition  to  free  land  which 
he  received  with  the  Homestead  Act. 

The  producers*  cooperation,  which  offered  the  occasion 
for  the  espousal  of  greenbackism,  was  itself  preceded  by 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       53 

a  movement  for  consumers*  cooperation.  Following  the 
upward  sweep  of  prices,  workmen  had  begun  toward  the 
end  of  1862  to  make  definite  preparations  for  distributive 
cooperation.  They  endeavored  to  cut  off  the  profits  of 
the  middleman  by  establishing  cooperative  grocery 
stores,  meat  markets,  and  coal  yards.  The  first  substan- 
tial effort  of  this  kind  to  attract  wide  attention  was  the 
formation  in  December  1862,  of  the  Union  Cooperative 
Association  of  Philadelphia,  which  opened  a  store.  The 
prime  mover  and  the  financial  secretary  of  this  organiza- 
tion was  Thomas  Phillips,  a  shoemaker  who  came  from 
England  in  1852,  fired  with  the  principles  of  the  Rochdale 
pioneers,  that  is,  cash  sales,  dividends  on  purchases  rather 
than  on  stock,  and  "one  man,  one  vote."  By  1866  the 
movement  had  extended  until  practically  every  important 
industrial  town  between  Boston  and  San  Francisco  had 
some  form  of  distributive  cooperation.  This  was  the  high 
tide  of  the  movement.  Unfortunately,  the  condition  of 
the  country  was  unfavorable  to  these  enterprises  and  they 
were  destined  to  early  collapse.  The  year  1865  witnessed 
disastrous  business  failures.  The  country  was  in  an  un- 
certain condition  and  at  the  end  of  the  sixties  the  entire 
movement  had  died  out. 

From  1866  to  1869  experiments  in  productive  coopera- 
tion were  made  by  practically  all  leading  trades  including 
the  bakers,  coach  makers,  collar  makers,  coal  miners, 
shipwrights,  machinists  and  blacksmiths,  foundry  work- 
ers, nailers,  ship  carpenters,  and  calkers,  glass  blowers, 
hatters,  boiler  makers,  plumbers,  iron  rollers,  tailors, 
printers,  needle  women,  and  molders.  A  large  proportion 
of  these  attempts  grew  out  of  unsuccessful  strikes.  The 
most  important  undertakings  were  among  the  workers 
in  iron,  undoubtedly  due  in  large  measure  to  the  inde- 


fatigable  efforts  of  William  H.  Sylvis,  the  founder  of  the 
Iron  Molders*  International  Union. 

At  the  close  of  1869  members  of  the  Iron  Molders* 
International  Union  owned  and  operated  many  coopera- 
tive foundries  chiefly  in  New  York  and  Pennsylvania. 
The  first  of  the  foundries  established  at  Troy  in  the  early 
summer  of  1866  was  followed  quickly  by  one  in  Albany 
and  then  during  the  next  eighteen  months  by  ten  more — 
one  each  in  Rochester,  Chicago,  Quincy,  Louisville,  Som- 
erset, Pittsburgh,  and  two  each  in  Troy  and  Cleveland. 
The  original  foundry  at  Troy  was  an  immediate  financial 
success  and  was  hailed  with  joy  by  those  who  believed 
that  under  the  name  of  cooperationists  the  baffled  trade 
unionists  might  yet  conquer.  The  New  York  Sun  con- 
gratulated the  iron  molders  of  Troy  and  declared  that 
Sylvis  had  checkmated  the  association  of  stove  manu- 
facturers and,  by  the  establishment  of  this  cooperative 
foundry,  had  made  the  greatest  contribution  of  the  year 
to  the  labor  cause. 

But  the  results  of  the  Troy  experiment,  typical  of  the 
others,  show  how  far  from  a  successful  solution  of  the 
labor  problem  is  productive  cooperation.  Although  this 
"Troy  Cooperative  Iron  Founders'  Association"  was 
planned  with  great  deliberation  and  launched  at  a  time 
when  the  regular  stove  manufacturers  were  embarrassed 
by  strikes,  and  although  it  was  regularly  incorporated 
with  a  provision  that  each  member  was  entitled  to  but 
one  vote  whether  he  held  one  share  at  $100,  or  the  maxi- 
mum privilege  of  fifty  in  the  total  of  two  thousand 
shares,  it  failed  as  did  the  others  in  furnishing  perma- 
nent relief  to  the  workers  as  a  class.  At  the  end  of  the 
third  year  of  this  enterprise,  the  American  Workman 
published  a  sympathetic  account  of  its  progress  uncon- 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       55 

sciously  disclosing  its  fatal  weakness,  namely,  the  in- 
evitable tendency  of  cooperators  to  adopt  the  capitalistic 
view.  The  writer  of  this  account  quotes  from  these  co- 
operators  to  show  that  "the  fewer  the  stockholders  in 
the  company  the  greater  its  success." 

A  similar  instance  is  furnished  by  the  Cooperative 
Foundry  Company  of  Rochester.  This  venture  has  also 
been  a  financial  success,  though  a  partial  failure  as  a 
cooperative  enterprise.  When  it  was  established  in  1867 
all  employes  were  stockholders  and  profits  were  divided 
as  follows :  Twelve  per  cent,  on  capital  and  the  balance 
in  proportion  to  the  earnings  of  the  men.  But  the  capi- 
talist was  stronger  than  the  cooperative  brother.  Divi- 
dends on  capital  were  advanced  in  a  few  years  to  seven- 
teen and  one-half  per  cent.,  then  to  twenty-five,  and 
finally  the  distribution  of  any  part  of  the  profits 
in  proportion  to  wages  was  discontinued.  Money  was 
made  every  year  and  dividends  paid,  which  in  1884 
amounted  to  forty  per  cent,  on  the  capital.  At  that  time 
about  one-fifth  of  the  employes  were  stockholders.  Also 
in  this  case  cooperation  did  not  prevent  the  usual  conflict 
between  employer  and  employe,  as  is  shown  in  a  strike 
of  three  and  a  half  months'  duration.  It  is  interesting 
to  notice  that  one  of  the  strikers,  a  member  of  the 
Molders*  Union,  owned  stock  to  the  amount  of  $7000. 

The  machinists,  too,  throughout  this  period  took  an 
active  interest  in  cooperation.  Their  convention  which 
met  in  October,  1865,  appointed  a  committee  to  report 
on  a  plan  of  action  to  establish  a  cooperative  shop  under 
the  auspices  of  the  International  Union.  The  plan  failed 
of  adoption,  but  of  machinists*  shops  on  the  joint-stock 
plan  there  were  a  good  many.  Two  other  trades  noted 
for  their  enthusiasm  for  cooperation  at  this  time  were 


the  shoemakers  and  the  coopers.  The  former,  organized 
in  the  Order  of  St.  Crispin,  then  the  largest  trade  union 
in  the  country,  advocated  cooperation  even  when  their 
success  in  strikes  was  at  its  height.  "The  present  demand 
of  the  Crispin  is  steady  employment  and  fair  wages,  but 
his  future  is  self-employment"  was  one  of  their  mottoes. 
During  the  seventies  they  repeatedly  attempted  to  carry 
this  motto  into  effect.  The  seventies  also  saw  the  be- 
ginning of  the  most  successful  single  venture  in  productive 
cooperation  ever  undertaken  in  this  country,  namely,  the 
eight  cooperative  cooperage  shops  in  Minneapolis,  which 
were  established  at  varying  intervals  from  1874  to  1886. 
The  coopers  took  care  to  enforce  true  cooperation  by 
providing  for  equal  holding  of  stock  and  for  a  division 
of  ordinary  profits  and  losses  in  proportion  to  wages. 
The  cooper  shops  prospered,  but  already  ten  years  later 
four  out  of  the  eight  existing  in  1886  had  passed  into 
private  hands. 

In  1866  when  the  eight -hour  demand  was  as  yet  upper- 
most, the  National  Labor  Union  resolved  for  an  inde- 
pendent labor  party.  The  espousal  of  greenbackism  in 
1867  only  reenforced  that  resolution.  The  leaders  real- 
ized only  too  well  that  neither  the  Republican  nor  Demo- 
cratic party  would  voluntarily  make  an  issue  of  a  scheme 
purporting  to  assist  the  wage  earner  to  become  an  inde- 
pendent producer.  Accordingly,  the  history  of  the  Na- 
tional Labor  Union  became  largely  the  history  of  labor's 
first  attempt  to  play  a  lone  political  hand  on  a  national 

Each  annual  session  of  the  National  Labor  Union 
faithfully  reaffirmed  the  decision  to  "cut  loose"  from  the 
old  parties.  But  such  a  vast  undertaking  demanded  time. 
It  was  not  until  1872  that  the  National  Labor  Union  met 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       57 

as  a  political  convention  to  nominate  a  national  ticket. 
From  the  first  the  stars  were  inauspicuous.  Charges  were 
made  that  political  aspirants  sought  to  control  the  con- 
vention in  order  to  influence  nominations  by  the  Republi-' 
can  and  Democratic  parties.  A  "greenback"  platform 
was  adopted  as  a  matter  of  course  and  the  new  party 
was  christened  the  National  Labor  and  Reform  Party. 
On  the  first  formal  ballot  for  nomination  for  President, 
Judge  David  Davis  of  Illinois,  a  personal  friend  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln,  received  88  votes,  Wendell  Phillips,  the 
abolitionist,  52,  and  the  remainder  scattered.  On  the. 
third  ballot  Davis  was  nominated.  Governor  J.  Parker 
of  New  Jersey  was  nominated  for  Vice-President.  At 
first  Judge  Davis  accepted  the  nomination,  but  resigned 
after  the  Democrats  had  nominated  Horace  Greeley. 
The  loss  of  the  candidate  spelled  the  death  of  the  party. 
The  National  Labor  Union  itself  had  been  only  an  empty 
shell  since  1870,  when  the  national  trade  unions,  dis- 
affected with  the  turn  towards  politics,  withdrew.  Now, 
its  pet  project  a  failure,  it,  too,  broke  up. 

In  1873,  on  the  eve  of  the  financial  panic,  the  national 
trade  unions  attempted  to  reconstruct  a  national  labor 
federation  on  a  purely  trade-union  basis  in  the  form  of  a 
National  Industrial  Congress.  But  the  economic  disas- 
ter of  the  panic  nipped  it  in  the  bud  just  as  it  cut  off  the 
life  of  the  overwhelming  majority  of  the  existing  labor 
organizations.  Another  attempt  to  get  together  on  a 
national  basis  was  made  in  the  National  Labor  Congress 
at  Pittsburgh  in  1876.  But  those  who  responded  were 
not  interested  in  trade  unionism  and,  mirroring  the  pre- 
vailing labor  sentiment  during  the  long  years  of  de- 
pressions, had  only  politics  on  their  mind,  greenback  or 
socialist.  As  neither  greenbacker  nor  socialist  would 


meet  the  other  half-way,  the  attempt  naturally  came  to 

Greenbackism  was  popular  with  the  working  people 
during  the  depressed  seventies  because  it  now  meant  to 
them  primarily  currency  inflation  and  a  rise  of  prices 
and,  consequently,  industrial  prosperity — not  the  phan- 
tastic  scheme  of  the  National  Labor  Union.  Yet  in  the 
Presidential  election  of  1876  the  Greenback  party  candi- 
date, Peter  Cooper,  the  well  known  manufacturer  and 
philanthropist,  drew  only  a  poor  100,000,  which  came 
practically  from  the  rural  districts  only.  It  was  not  until 
the  great  strikes  of  1877  had  brought  in  their  train  a 
political  labor  upheaval  that  the  greenback  movement 
assumed  a  formidable  form. 

The  strikes  of  1877,  which  on  account  of  the  wide  area 
affected,  the  degree  of  violence  displayed,  and  the  amount 
of  life  and  property  lost,  impressed  contemporaries  as 
being  nothing  short  of  social  revolution,  were  precipitated 
by  a  general  ten  per  cent,  reduction  in  wages  on  the  three 
trunk  lines  running  West,  the  Pennsylvania,  the  Balti- 
more &  Ohio,  and  the  New  York  Central,  in  June  and 
July  1877.  This  reduction  came  on  top  of  an  earlier 
ten  per  cent,  reduction  after  the  panic.  The  railway 
men  were  practically  unorganized  so  that  the  steadying 
influence  of  previous  organization  was  totally  lacking  in 
the  critical  situation  of  unrest  which  the  newly  announced 
wage  reduction  created.  One  must  take  also  into  account 
that  in  the  four  terrible  years  which  elapsed  since  the 
panic,  America  had  developed  a  new  type  of  a  man — the 
tramp — who  naturally  gravitated  towards  places  where 
trouble  was  expected. 

The  first  outbreak  occurred  at  Martinsburg,  West 
Virginia,  on  July  17,  the  day  after  the  ten  per  cent,  re- 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       59 

duction  had  gone  into  effect.  The  strike  spread  like 
wildfire  over  the  adjacent  sections  of  the  Baltimore  & 
Ohio  road,  the  strikers  assuming  absolute  control  at 
many  points.  The  militia  was  either  unwilling  or  power- 
less to  cope  with  the  violence.  In  Baltimore,  where  in  the 
interest  of  public  safety  all  the  freight  trains  had  stopped 
running,  two  companies  of  militia  were  beleaguered  by  a 
mob  to  prevent  their  being  dispatched  to  Cumberland, 
where  the  strikers  were  in  control.  Order  was  restored 
only  when  Federal  troops  arrived. 

But  these  occurrences  fade  into  insignificance  when 
compared  with  the  destructive  effects  of  the  strike  on  the 
Pennsylvania  in  and  around  Pittsburgh.  The  situation 
there  was  aggravated  by  a  hatred  of  the  Pennsylvania 
railway  corporation  shared  by  nearly  all  residents  on 
the  ground  of  an  alleged  rate  discrimination  against  the 
city.  The  Pittsburgh  militia  fraternized  with  the  strik- 
ers, and  when  600  troops  which  arrived  from  Philadelphia 
attempted  to  restore  order  and  killed  about  twenty  riot- 
ers, they  were  besieged  in  a  roundhouse  by  a  furious  mob. 
In  the  battle  the  railway  yards  were  set  on  fire.  Damages 
amounting  to  about  $5,000,000  were  caused.  The  be- 
sieged militia  men  finally  gained  egress  and  retreated 
fighting  rear-guard  actions.  At  last  order  was  restored 
by  patrols  of  citizens.  The  strike  spread  also  to  the  Erie 
railway  and  caused  disturbances  in  several  places,  but  not 
nearly  of  the  same  serious  nature  as  on  the  Baltimore 
&  Ohio  and  the  Pennsylvania.  The  other  places  to  which 
the  strike  spread  were  Toledo,  Louisville,  Chicago,  St. 
Louis,  and  San  Francisco. 

The  strikes  failed  in  every  case  but  their  moral  effect 
was  enormous.  The  general  public  still  retained  a  fresh 
memory  of  the  Commune  of  Paris  of  1871  and  feared  for 


the  foundations  of  the  established  order.  The  wage 
earners,  on  the  other  hand,  felt  that  the  strikers  had  not 
been  fairly  dealt  with.  It  was  on  this  intense  labor  dis- 
content that  the  greenback  agitation  fed  and  grew. 

Whereas  in  1876  the  greenback  labor  vote  was  negli- 
gible, notwithstanding  the  exhortations  by  many  of  the 
former  trade  union  leaders  who  turned  greenback  agi- 
tators, now,  following  the  great  strikes,  greenbackism 
became  primarily  a  labor  movement.  Local  Greenback- 
Labor  parties  were  being  organized  everywhere  and  a 
national  Greenback-Labor  party  was  not  far  behind  in 
forming.  The  continued  industrial  depression  was  a 
decisive  factor,  the  winter  of  1877—1878  marking  perhaps 
the  point  of  its  greatest  intensity.  Naturally  the  green- 
back movement  was  growing  apace.  One  of  the  notable 
successes  in  the  spring  of  1878  was  the  election  of  Terence 
V.  Powderly,  later  Grand  Master  Workman  of  the 
Knights  of  Labor,  as  mayor  of  Scranton,  Pennsylvania. 

The  Congressional  election  in  the  autumn  of  1878 
marked  the  zenith  of  the  movement.  The  aggregate 
greenback  vote  cast  in  the  election  exceeded  a  million,  and 
fourteen  Representatives  were  sent  to  Congress.  In  New 
England  the  movement  was  strong  enough  to  poll  almost 
a  third  of  the  total  vote  in  Maine,  over  8  per  cent,  of  the 
total  vote  in  both  Connecticut  and  New  Hampshire,  and 
from  4  to  6  per  cent,  in  the  other  States.  In  Maine  the 
greenbackers  elected  32  members  of  the  upper  house 
and  151  members  of  the  lower  house  and  one  Congress- 
man, Thompson  Murch  of  Rochland,  who  was  secretary 
of  the  National  Granite  Cutters'  Union.  However,  the 
bulk  of  the  vote  in  that  State  was  obviously  agricultural. 
In  Massachusetts,  the  situation  was  dominated  by  Gen- 
eral Benjamin  F.  Butler,  lifelong  Republican  politician, 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       61 

who  had  succeeded  in  getting  the  Democratic  nomination 
for  governor  and  was  endorsed  by  the  Greenback  conven- 
tion. He  received  a  large  vote  but  was  defeated  for 

But  just  as  the  Greenback-Labor  movement  was  as- 
suming promising  proportions  a  change  for  the  better 
in  the  industrial  situation  cut  under  the  very  roots  of  its 
existence.  In  addition,  one  month  after  the  election  of 
1878,  its  principal  issue  disappeared.  January  1,  1879, 
was  the  date  fixed  by  the  act  for  resumption  of  redemp- 
tion of  greenbacks  in  gold  and  on  December  17,  1878, 
the  premium  on  gold  disappeared.  From  that  day  on, 
the  greenback  became  a  dead  issue. 

Another  factor  of  great  importance  was  the  large  in- 
crease in  the  volume  of  the  currency.  In  1881  the  currency, 
which  had  averaged  about  $725,000,000  for  the  years 
1876-1878,  reached  over  $1,111,000,000.  Under  these 
conditions,  all  that  remained  available  to  the  platform- 
makers  and  propagandists  of  the  party  was  their  oppo- 
sition to  the  so-called  "monopolistic"  national  banks  with 
their  control  over  currency  and  to  the  refunding  of  the 
bonded  debt  of  the  government. 

The  disappearance  of  the  financial  issue  snapped  the 
threads  which  had  held  together  the  farmer  and  the  wage- 
worker.  So  long  as  depression  continued,  the  issue  was 
financial  and  the  two  had,  as  they  thought,  a  common 
enemy — the  banker.  The  financial  issue  once  settled,  or  at 
least  suspended,  the  object  of  the  attack  by  labor  became 
the  employer,  and  that  of  the  attack  by  the  farmer — the 
railway  corporation  and  the  warehouse  man.  Prosperity 
had  mitigated  the  grievances  of  both  classes,  but  while 
the  farmer  still  had  a  great  deal  to  expect  from  politics 
in  the  form  of  state  regulation  of  railway  rates,  the  wage 


earners'  struggle  now  turned  entirely  economic  and  not 

In  California,  as  in  the  Eastern  industrial  States,  the 
railway  strikes  of  1877  precipitated  a  political  movement. 
California  had  retained  gold  as  currency  throughout  the 
entire  period  of  paper  money,  and  the  labor  movement 
at  no  time  had  accepted  the  greenback  platform.  The 
political  issue  after  1877  was  racial,  not  financial,  and 
the  weapon  was  not  merely  the  ballot,  but  also  "direct 
action" — violence.  The  anti-Chinese  agitation  in  Cali- 
fornia, culminating  as  it  did  in  the  Exclusion  Law  passed 
by  Congress  in  1882,  was  doubtless  the  most  important 
single  factor  in  the  history  of  American  labor,  for  with- 
out it  the  entire  country  might  have  been  overrun  by 
Mongolian  labor  and  the  labor  movement  might  have 
become  a  conflict  of  races  instead  of  one  of  classes.1 

The  seventies  witnessed  another  of  those  recurring  at- 
tempts of  consumers'  cooperation  already  noticed  in  the 
forties  and  sixties.  This  time  the  movement  was  or- 
ganized by  the  "Sovereigns  of  Industry,"  a  secret  order, 
founded  at  Worcester,  Massachusetts,  in  1874  by  one 
William  H.  Earle.  The  spirit  of  the  Order  was  entirely 
peaceful  and  unobtrusive  as  expressed  in  the  first  para- 
graph of  the  Declaration  of  Purposes  which  reads  as 
follows : 

"The  Order  of  the  Sovereigns  of  Industry  is  an  associa- 
tion of  the  industrial  or  laboring  classes,  without  regard 
to  race,  sex,  color,  nationality,  or  occupation;  not 
founded  for  the  purpose  of  waging  any  war  of  aggression 
upon  any  other  class,  or  for  fostering  any  antagonism 

1  The  National  Labor  Union  came  out  against  Chinese  immigration 
in  1869,  when  the  issue  was  brought  home  to  the  Eastern  wage  earners 
following  the  importation  by  a  shoe  manufacturer  in  North  Adams, 
Massachusetts,  of  Chinese  strike  breakers. 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       63 

of  labor  against  capital,  or  of  arraying  the  poor  against 
the  rich;  but  for  mutual  assistance  in  self-improvement 
and  self-protection." 

The  scheme  of  organization  called  for  a  local  council 
including  members  from  the  town  or  district,  a  state 
council,  comprising  representatives  from  the  local  coun- 
cils and  a  National  Council  in  which  the  States  were 
represented.  The  president  of  the  National  Council  was 
the  founder  of  the  Order,  William  H.  Earle. 

Success  accompanied  the  efforts  of  the  promoters  of 
the  Sovereigns  of  Industry  for  a  few  years.  The  total 
membership  in  1875-1876  was  40,000,  of  whom  seventy- 
five  per  cent,  were  in  New  England  and  forty-three  per 
cent,  in  Massachusetts.  Though  the  Order  extended  into 
other  States  and  even  reached  the  territories,  its  chief 
strength  always  remained  in  New  England  and  the  Middle 
States.  During  the  last  period  of  its  existence  a  national 
organ  was  published  at  Washington,  but  the  Order  does 
not  appear  to  have  gained  a  foothold  in  any  of  the  more 
Southern  sections  of  the  country. 

In  1875,  101  local  councils  reported  as  having  some 
method  of  supplying  members  with  goods,  46  of  whom 
operated  stores.  The  largest  store  belonged  to  the 
council  at  Springfield,  Massachusetts,  which  in  1875  built 
the  "Sovereign  Block"  at  a  cost  of  $35,500.  In  his  ad- 
dress at  the  fourth  annual  session  in  Washington,  Presi- 
dent Earle  stated  that  the  store  in  Springfield  led  all 
the  others  with  sales  amounting  to  $119,000  for  the  pre- 
ceding year.  About  one-half  of  the  councils  failed  to 
report,  but  at  the  Congress  of  1876  President  Earle 
estimated  the  annual  trade  at  $3,000,000. 

Much  enthusiasm  accompanied  the  progress  of  the 
movement.  The  hall  in  "Sovereign  Block"  at  Springfield 


was  dedicated  amid  such  jubilation  as  marks  an  event 
thought  to  be  the  forerunner  of  a  new  era.  There  is 
indeed  a  certain  pathos  in  the  high  hopes  expressed  in 
the  Address  of  Dedication  by  President  Earle,  for, 
though  the  Order  continued  to  thrive  until  1878,  shortly 
after  a  decline  began,  and  dissolution  was  its  fate  in  1880. 
The  failure  of  the  Sovereigns  marked  the  latest  attempt 
on  a  large  scale  l  to  innoculate  the  American  workingmen 
with  the  sort  of  cooperative  spirit  which  proved  so  suc- 
cessful in  England.2 

1  There  were  many  cooperative  stores  in  the  eighties  and  a  con- 
certed effort  to  duplicate  the  venture  of  the  Sovereigns  was  attempted 
as  late  as  1919  under  the  pressure  of  the  soaring  cost  of  living. 

2  Where  Consumers'  Cooperation  has  worked  under  most  favorable 
conditions   as   in   England,   its   achievements   have  been   all   that   its 
most  ardent  champions  could  have  desired.     Such  is  the  picture  pre- 
sented by  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Sidney  Webb  in  the  following  glowing  terms: 

"The  organization  of  industry  by  Associations  of  Consumers  oifers, 
as  far  as  it  goes,  a  genuine  alternative  to  capitalist  ownership,  because 
it  supersedes  the  capitalist  power,  whether  individual  or  joint-stock, 
alike  in  the  control  of  the  instruments  of  production  by  which  the 
community  lives,  and  in  the  absorption  of  the  profits,  which  other- 
wise support  a  capitalist  class.  The  ownership  and  control  are  vested 
in,  and  the  profits  are  distributed  among,  the  whole  community  of 
consumers,  irrespective  of  their  industrial  wealth.  Through  the 
device  of  dividend  on  purchases  the  Cooperative  Movement  maintains 
an  open  democracy,  through  the  control  of  this  democracy  of  con- 
sumers it  has  directly  or  indirectly  kept  down  prices,  and  protected 
the  wage-earning  class  from  exploitation  by  the  Credit  System  and 
from  the  extortions  of  monopolist  traders  and  speculators.  By 
this  same  device  on  purchases,  and  the  automatic  accumulation  of 
part  of  the  profit  in  the  capital  of  each  society  and  in  that  of  the 
Wholesales,  it  has  demonstratedly  added  to  the  personal  wealth  of 
the  manual  working  class,  and  has,  alike  in  Great  Britain,  and  in 
other  countries,  afforded  both  a  valuable  financial  reserve  to  the 
wage-earners  against  all  emergencies  and  an  instrument  for  their 
elevation  from  the  penury  to  which  competition  is  always  depressing 
them.  By  making  possible  the  upgrowth  of  great  business  enterprises 
in  working  class  hands,  the  Cooperative  Movement  has,  without  divorc- 
ing them  from  their  fellows,  given  to  thousands  of  the  manual  workers 
both  administrative  experience  and  a  well-grounded  confidence;  and 
has  thus  enabled  them  to  take  a  fuller  part  in  political  and  social 
life  than  would  otherwise  have  been  probable." — New  Statesman, 
May  30,  1916.  "Special  Supplement  on  the  Cooperative  Movement." 

Indeed  the  success  of  the  consumer's  cooperative  movement  in 
European  countries  has  been  marvellous,  even  measured  by  bare 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       65 

This  failure  of  distributive  cooperation  to  gain  the 
strong  and  lasting  foothold  in  this  country  that  it  has 
abroad  has  been  accounted  for  in  various  ways  by  differ- 
ent writers.  Great  emphasis  has  been  laid  upon  the  lack 
of  capital,  the  lack  of  suitable  legislation  on  the  subject 
of  cooperation,  the  mutual  isolation  of  the  educated  and 
wage-earning  classes,  the  lack  of  business  ability  among 
wage  earners,  and  the  altogether  too  frequent  venality 
and  corruption  among  cooperators. 

Probably  the  lack  of  adequate  leadership  has  played  as 
important  a  part  as  any.  It  is  peculiar  to  America  that 
the  wage  earner  of  exceptional  ability  can  easily  find  a 
way  for  escaping  into  the  class  of  independent  producers 
or  even  employers  of  labor.  The  American  trade  union 
movement  has  suffered  much  less  from  this  difficulty. 
The  trade  unions  are  fighting  organizations  ;  they  demand 
the  sort  of  leader  who  is  of  a  combative  spirit,  who  pos- 
sesses the  organizing  ability  and  the  "personal  mag- 
netism" to  keep  his  men  in  line ;  and  for  this  kind  of  ability 
the  business  world  offers  no  particular  demand.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  qualifications  which  go  to  make  a  suc- 
cessful manager  of  a  cooperative  store,  namely,  steadi- 
ness, conservatism  of  judgment,  attention  to  detail  and 
business  punctuality  always  will  be  in  great  demand  in 
the  business  world.  Hence,  when  no  barrier  is  interposed 
in  the  form  of  preempted  opportunities  or  class  bias,  the 
exceptional  workingman  who  possesses  these  qualifications 
will  likely  desert  his  class  and  set  up  in  business  for  him- 

figures.  In  all  Europe  in  1914,  there  were  about  9,000,000  cooperators 
of  whom  one-third  lived  in  Great  Britain  and  not  less  than  two  and 
a  half  millions  in  Germany.  In  England  and  Scotland  alone,  the  1400 
stores  and  two  Wholesale  Cooperative  Societies  controlled  in  1914 
about  420  million  dollars  of  retail  distributive  trade  and  employed 
nearly  50,000  operatives  in  processes  of  production  in  their  own  work- 
shops and  factories. 


self.  In  England,  fortunately  for  the  cooperative  move- 
ment, such  an  escape  is  very  difficult. 

The  failure  of  consumers'  cooperation  in  America  was 
helped  also  by  two  other  peculiarly  American  conditions. 
European  economists,  when  speaking  of  the  working  class, 
assume  generally  that  it  is  fixed  in  residence  and  contrast 
it  with  capital,  which  they  say  is  fluid  as  between  city 
and  city  and  even  between  country  and  country.  Ameri- 
can labor,  however,  native  as  well  as  immigrant,  is  prob- 
ably more  mobile  than  capital;  for,  tradition  and  habit 
which  keep  the  great  majority  of  European  wage  earners 
in  the  place  where  their  fathers  and  forefathers  had  lived 
before  them  are  generally  absent  in  this  country,  except 
perhaps  in  parts  of  New  England  and  the  South.  It  is 
therefore  natural  that  the  cooperative  spirit,  which  after 
all  is  but  an  enlarged  and  more  generalized  form  of  the  old 
spirit  of  neighborliness  and  mutual  trust,  should  have 
failed  to  develop  to  its  full  strength  in  America. 

Another  condition  fatal  to  the  development  of  the  co- 
operative spirit  is  the  racial  heterogeneity  of  the  Ameri- 
can wage-earning  class,  which  separates  it  into  mutually 
isolated  groups  even  as  the  social  classes  of  England 
and  Scotland  are  separated  by  class  spirit.  As  a  result, 
we  find  a  want  of  mutual  trust  which  depends  so  much  on 
"consciousness  of  kind."  This  is  further  aggravated  by 
competition  and  a  continuous  displacement  in  industry 
of  nationalities  of  a  high  standard  of  living  by  those  of  a 
lower  one.  This  conflict  of  nationalities,  which  lies  also 
at  the  root  of  the  closed  shop  policy  of  many  of  the 
American  trade  unions,  is  probably  the  most  effective 
carrier  that  there  is  to  a  widespread  growth  of  the 
cooperative  spirit  among  American  wage  earners.  This 
is  further  hindered  by  other  national  characteristics 

THE  "GREENBACK"  PERIOD,  1862-1879       67 

which  more  or  less  pervade  all  classes  of  society,  namely, 
the  traditional  individualism — the  heritage  of  puritanism 
and  the  pioneer  days,  and  the  emphasis  upon  earning 
capacity  with  a  corresponding  aversion  to  thrift. 





With  the  practical  disintegration  of  the  organized 
labor  movement  in  the  seventies,  two  nuclei  held  together 
and  showed  promise  of  future  growth.  One  was  the 
"Noble  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor"  and  the  other  a 
small  trade  union  movement  grouped  around  the  Inter- 
national Cigar  Makers'  Union. 

The  "Noble  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,"  while  it 
first  became  important  in  the  labor  movement  after  1873, 
was  founded  in  1869  by  Uriah  Smith  Stephens,  a  tailor 
who  had  been  educated  for  the  ministry,  as  a  secret  or- 
ganization. Secrecy  was  adopted  as  a  protection  against 
persecutions  by  employers. 

The  principles  of  the  Order  were  set  forth  by  Stephens 
in  the  secret  ritual.  "Open  and  public  association  having 
failed  after  a  struggle  of  centuries  to  protect  or  advance 
the  interest  of  labor,  we  have  lawfully  constituted  this 
Assembly,"  and  "in  using  this  power  of  organized  effort 
and  cooperation,  we  but  imitate  the  example  of  capital 
heretofore  set  in  numberless  instances;"  for,  "in  all  the 
multifarious  branches  of  trade,  capital  has  its  combina- 
tions, and,  whether  intended  or  not,  it  crushes  the  manly 
hopes  of  labor  and  tramples  poor  humanity  into  the 
dust."  However,  "we  mean  no  conflict  with  legitimate 



enterprise,  no  antagonism  to  necessary  capital."  The 
remedy  consists  first  in  work  of  education :  "We  mean  to 
create  a  healthy  public  opinion  on  the  subject  of  labor 
(the  only  creator  of  values  or  capital)  and  the  justice  of 
its  receiving  a  full,  just  share  of  the  values  or  capital  it 
has  created."  The  next  remedy  was  legislation:  "We 
shall,  with  all  our  strength,  support  laws  made  to  har- 
monize the  interests  of  labor  and  capital,  for  labor  alone 
gives  life  and  value  to  capital,  and  also  those  laws  which 
tend  to  lighten  the  exhaustiveness  of  toil."  Next  in  order 
were  mutual  benefits.  "We  shall  use  every  lawful  and 
honorable  means  to  procure  and  retain  employ  for 
one  another,  coupled  with  a  just  and  fair  remunera- 
tion, and,  should  accident  or  misfortune  befall  one  of 
our  number,  render  such  aid  as  lies  within  our  power  to 
give,  without  inquiring  his  country  or  his  creed." 

For  nine  years  the  Order  remained  a  secret  organiza- 
tion and  showed  but  a  slow  growth.  In  1878  it  was  forced 
to  abolish  secrecy.  The  public  mind  was  rendered  uneasy 
by  the  revolutionary  uprising  of  workingmen  of  Paris 
who  set  up  the  famous  "Commune  of  Paris"  of  1871,  by 
the  destructive  great  railway  strikes  in  this  country  in 
1877  and,  lastly,  by  a  wave  of  criminal  disorders  in  the 
anthracite  coal  mining  region  in  Eastern  Pennsylvania,1 
and  became  only  too  prone  to  attribute  revolutionary 
and  criminal  intents  to  any  labor  organization  that 
cloaked  itself  in  secrecy.  Simultaneously  with  coming 
out  into  the  open,  the  Knights  adopted  a  new  program, 
called  the  Preamble  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,  in  place  of 

1  After  the  defeat  of  a  strong  anthracite  miners'  union  in  1869, 
which  was  an  open  organization,  the  fight  against  the  employers  was 
carried  on  by  a  secret  organization  known  as  the  Molly  Maguires, 
which  used  the  method  of  terrorism  and  assassination.  It  was  later 
exposed  and  many  were  sentenced  and  executed. 


the  vague   Secret  Ritual  which  hitherto   served  as  the 
authoritative  expression  of  aims. 

This  Preamble  recites  how  "wealth,"  with  its  develop- 
ment, has  become  so  aggressive  that  "unless  checked"  it 
"will  inevitably  lead  to  the  pauperisation  and  hopeless 
degradation  of  the  toiling  masses."  Hence,  if  the  toilers 
are  "to  enjoy  the  blessings  of  life,"  they  must  organize 
"every  department  of  productive  industry"  in  order  to 
"check"  the  power  of  wealth  and  to  put  a  stop  to  "unjust 
accumulation."  The  battle  cry  in  this  fight  must  be 
"moral  worth  not  wealth,  the  true  standard  of  individual 
and  national  greatness."  As  the  "action"  of  the  toilers 
ought  to  be  guided  by  "knowledge,"  it  is  necessary  to 
know  "the  true  condition  of  the  producing  masses"; 
therefore,  the  Order  demands  "from  the  various  govern- 
ments the  establishment  of  bureaus  of  labor  statistics." 
Next  in  order  comes  the  "establishment  of  cooperative 
institutions  productive  and  distributive."  Union  of  all 
trades,  "education,"  and  producers*  cooperation  remained 
forever  after  the  cardinal  points  in  the  Knights  of  Labor 
philosophy  and  were  steadily  referred  to  as  "First  Prin- 
ciples," namely  principles  bequeathed  to  the  Order  by 
Uriah  Stephens  and  the  other  "Founders."  * 

1  The  Preamble  further  provides  that  the  Order  will  stand  for  the 
reservation  of  all  lands  for  actual  settlers;  the  "abrogation  of  all 
laws  that  do  not  bear  equally  upon  capital  and  labor,  the  removal 
of  unjust  technicalities,  delays,  and  discriminations  in  the  adminis- 
tration of  justice,  and  the  adopting  of  measures  providing  for  the 
health  and  safety  of  those  engaged  in  mining,  manufacturing,  or 
building  pursuits";  the  enactment  of  a  weekly  pay  law,  a  mechanics' 
lien  law,  and  a  law  prohibiting  child  labor  under  fourteen  years  of 
age;  the  abolition  of  the  contract  system  on  national,  state,  and 
municipal  work,  and  of  the  system  of  leasing  out  convicts;  equal 
pay  for  equal  work  for  both  sexes;  reduction  of  hours  of  labor  to 
eight  per  day;  "the  substitution  of  arbitration  for  strikes,  whenever 
and  wherever  employers  and  employees  are  willing  to  meet  on 
equitable  grounds";  the  establishment  of  "a  purely  national  circulat- 
ing medium  based  upon  the  faith  and  resources  of  the  nation,  issued 


These  idealistic  "First  Principles"  found  an  ardent 
champion  in  Terence  V.  Powderly,  a  machinist  by  trade 
and  twice  mayor  of  Scranton,  Pennsylvania,  on  a  labor 
ticket,  who  succeeded  Stephens  in  1878  to  the  headship 
of  the  Order.  Powderly  bore  unmistakably  the  stamp  of 
this  sort  of  idealism  throughout  all  the  time  when  he  was 
the  foremost  labor  leader  in  the  country.  Unlike  Samuel 
Gompers,  who  came  to  supplant  him  about  1890,  he  was 
foreign  to  that  spirit  of  combative  unionism  which  accepts 
the  wage  system  but  concentrates  on  a  struggle  to  wrest 
concessions  from  the  employers.  Even  when  circum- 
stances which  were  largely  beyond  his  control  made 
Powderly  a  strike  leader  on  a  huge  scale,  his  heart  lay 
elsewhere — in  circumventing  the  wage  system  by  opening 
to  the  worker  an  escape  into  self-employment  through 

Producers*  cooperation,  then,  was  the  ambitious  pro- 
gram by  which  the  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  ex- 
pected to  lead  the  American  wage-earning  class  out  of  the 
bondage  of  the  wage  system  into  the  Canaan  of  self- 
employment.  Thus  the  Order  was  the  true  successor  of 
the  cooperative  movement  in  the  forties  and  sixties.  Its 
motto  was  "Cooperation  of  the  Order,  by  the  Order,  and 
for  the  Order."  Not  scattered  local  initiative,  but  the 
Order  as  a  whole  was  to  carry  on  the  work.  The  plan 
resembled  the  Rochdale  system  of  England  in  that  it  pro- 
posed to  start  with  an  organization  of  consumers — the 
large  and  ever-growing  membership  of  the  Order.  But  it 
departed  radically  from  the  English  prototype  in  that 
instead  of  setting  out  to  save  money  for  the  consumer, 

directly  to  the  people,  without  the  intervention  of  any  system  of 
banking  corporations,  which  money  shall  he  a  legal  tender  in  pay- 
ment of  all  debts,  public  or  private". 


it  primarily  aimed  to  create  a  market  for  the  productive 
establishments  which  were  to  follow.  Consumers'  co- 
operation was  to  be  but  a  stepping  stone  to  producers' 
self -employment.  Eventually  when  the  Order  had  grown 
to  include  nearly  all  useful  members  of  society — so  the 
plan  contemplated — it  would  control  practically  the 
whole  market  and  cooperative  production  would  become 
the  rule  rather  than  the  exception.  So  far,  therefore,  as 
"First  Principles"  went,  the  Order  was  not  an  instrument 
of  the  "class  struggle,"  but  an  association  of  idealistic 
cooperators.  It  was  this  pure  idealism  which  drew  to  the 
Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  the  sympathetic  interest 
of  writers  on  social  subjects  and  university  teachers,  then 
unfortunately  too  few  in  number,  like  Dr.  Richard  T. 
Ely  *  and  President  John  Bascom  of  Wisconsin. 

The  other  survival  in  the  seventies  of  the  labor  move- 
ment of  the  sixties,  which  has  already  been  mentioned, 
namely  the  trade  union  movement  grouped  around  the 
Cigar  Makers*  Union,  was  neither  so  purely  American  in 
its  origin  as  the  Knights  of  Labor  nor  so  persistently 
idealistic.  On  the  contrary,  its  first  membership  was 
foreign  and  its  program,  as  we  shall  see,  became  before 
long  primarily  opportunist  and  "pragmatic."  The  train- 
ing school  for  this  opportunistic  trade  unionism  was  the 
socialist  movement  during  the  sixties  and  seventies,  par- 
ticularly the  American  branch  of  the  International  Work- 
ingmen's  Association,  the  "First  Internationale"  which 
was  founded  by  Karl  Marx  in  London  in  1864.  The  con- 
ception of  economic  labor  organization  which  was  ad- 

1  Dr.  Ely  in  his  pioneer  work,  The  Labor  Movement  in  America, 
published  in  1886,  showed  a  most  genuine  sympathy  for  the  idealistic 
strivings  and  gropings  of  labor  for  a  better  social  order.  He  even 
advised  some  of  his  pupils  at  the  Johns  Hopkins  University  to  join 
the  Knights  of  Labor  in  order  to  gain  a  better  understanding  of  the 
labor  movement. 


vanced  by  the  Internationale  in  a  socialistic  formulation 
underwent  in  the  course  of  years  a  process  of  change: 
On  the  one  hand,  through  constant  conflict  with  the  rival 
conception  of  political  labor  organization  urged  by 
American  followers  of  the  German  socialist,  Ferdinand 
Lassalle,  and  on  the  other  hand,  through  contact  with 
American  reality.  Out  of  that  double  contact  emerged 
the  trade  unionism  of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor. 
The  Internationale  is  generally  reputed  to  have  been 
organized  by  Karl  Marx  for  the  propaganda  of  interna- 
tional socialism.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  its  starting  point 
was  the  practical  effort  of  British  trade  union  leaders  to 
organize  the  workingmen  of  the  Continent  and  to  pre- 
vent the  importation  of  Continental  strike-breakers. 
That  Karl  Marx  wrote  its  Inaugural  Address  was  merely 
incidental.  It  chanced  that  what  he  wrote  was  acceptable 
to  the  British  unionists  rather  than  the  draft  of  an  ad- 
dress representing  the  views  of  Giuseppe  Mazzini,  the 
leader  of  the  "New  Italy"  and  the  "New  Europe,"  which 
was  submitted  to  them  at  the  same  time  and  advocated 
elaborate  plans  of  cooperation.  Marx  emphasized  the 
class  solidarity  of  labor  against  Mazzini's  harmony  of 
capital  and  labor.  He  did  this  by  reciting  what  British 
labor  had  done  through  the  Rochdale  system  of  coopera- 
tion without  the  help  of  capitalists  and  what  the  British 
Parliament  had  done  in  enacting  the  ten-hour  law  of  1847 
against  the  protest  of  capitalists.  Now  that  British  trade 
unionists  in  1864  were  demanding  the  right  of  suffrage 
and  laws  to  protect  their  unions,  it  followed  that  Marx 
merely  stated  their  demands  when  he  affirmed  the  inde- 
pendent economic  and  political  organization  of  labor  in 
all  lands.  His  Inaugural  Address  was  a  trade  union 
document,  not  a  Communist  Manifesto.  Indeed  not  until 


Bakunin  and  his  following  of  anarchists  had  nearly  cap- 
tured the  organization  in  the  years  1869  to  1872  did  the 
program  of  socialism  become  the  leading  issue. 

The  philosophy  of  the  Internationale  at  the  period  of 
its  ascendency  was  based  on  the  economic  organization 
of  the  working  class  in  trade  unions.  These  must  precede 
the  political  seizure  of  the  government  by  labor.  Then, 
when  the  workingmen's  party  should  achieve  control,  it 
would  be  able  to  build  up  successively  the  socialist  state 
on  the  foundation  of  a  sufficient  number  of  existing  trade 

This  conception  differed  widely  from  the  teaching  of 
Ferdinand  Lassalle.  Lassallean  socialism  was  born  in 
1863  with  Lassalle's  Open  Letter  to  a  workingmen's  com- 
mittee in  Leipzig.  It  sprang  from  his  antagonism  to 
Schultze-Delizsch's  1  system  of  voluntary  cooperation.  In 
Lassalle's  eagerness  to  condemn  the  idea  of  the  harmony 
of  capital  and  labor,  which  lay  at  the  basis  of  Schultze's 
scheme  for  cooperation,  he  struck  at  the  same  time  a  blow 
against  all  forms  of  non-political  organization  of  wage 
earners.  Perhaps  the  fact  that  he  was  ignorant  of  the 
British  trade  unions  accounts  for  his  insufficient  apprecia- 
tion of  trade  unionism.  But  no  matter  what  the  cause 
may  have  been,  to  Lassalle  there  was  but  one  means  of 
solving  the  labor  problem — political  action.  When  po- 
litical control  was  finally  achieved,  the  labor  party,  with 
the  aid  of  state  credit,  would  build  up  a  network  of  co- 
operative societies  into  which  eventually  all  industry 
would  pass. 

In  short,  the  distinction  between  the  ideas  of  the  Inter- 
nationale and  of  Lassalle  consisted  in  the  fact  that  the 

1  Schultze-Delizsch  was  a  German  thinker  and  practical  reformer 
of  the  liberal  school. 


former  advocated  trade  unionism  prior  to  and  underlying 
political  organization,  while  the  latter  considered  a  politi- 
cal victory  as  the  basis  of  socialism.  These  antagonistic 
starting  points  are  apparent  at  the  very  beginning  of 
American  socialism  as  well  as  in  the  trade  unionism  and 
socialism  of  succeeding  years. 

Two  distinct  phases  can  be  seen  in  the  history  of  the 
Internationale  in  America.  During  the  first* phase,  which 
began  in  1866  and  lasted  until  1870,  the  Internationale 
had  no  important  organization  of  its  own  on  American 
soil,  but  tried  to  establish  itself  through  affiliation  with 
the  National  Labor  Union.  The  inducement  held  out  to 
the  latter  was  of  a  practical  nature,  the  international 
regulation  of  immigration.  During  the  second  phase  the 
Internationale  had  its  "sections"  in  nearly  every  large 
city  of  the  country,  centering  in  New  York  and  Chicago, 
and  the  practical  trade  union  part  of  its  work  receded 
before  its  activity  on  behalf  of  the  propaganda  of  so- 

These  "sections,"  with  a  maximum  membership  which 
probably  never  exceeded  a  thousand,  nearly  all  foreigners, 
became  a  preparatory  school  in  trade  union  leadership  for 
many  of  the  later  organizers  and  leaders  of  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor:  for  example,  Adolph  Strasser,  the 
German  cigar  maker,  whose  organization  became  the  new 
model  in  trade  unionism,  and  P.  J.  McGuire,  the 
American-born  carpenter,  who  founded  the  Brotherhood 
of  Carpenters  and  Joiners  and  who  was  for  many  years 
the  secretary-treasurer  of  the  American  Federation  of 

Fate  had  decreed  that  these  sections  of  a  handful  of 
immigrants  should  play  for  a  time  high-sounding  parts 
in  the  world  labor  movement.  When,  at  the  World  Con- 


gress  of  the  International  Workingmen's  Association  at 
the  Hague  in  1872,  the  anarchist  faction  led  by  Bakunin 
had  shown  such  strength  that  Marx  and  his  socialist  fac- 
tion deemed  it  wise  to  move  the  General  Council  out  of 
mischief's  way,  they  removed  it  to  New  York  and  entrusted 
its  powers  into  the  hands  of  the  faithful  German  Marx- 
ians on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic.  This  spelled  the  end  of 
the  Internationale  as  a  world  organization,  but  enor- 
mously increased  the  stakes  of  the  factional  fights  within 
the  handful  of  American  Internationalists.  The  organi- 
zation of  the  workers  into  trade  unions,  the  Internation- 
ale's first  principle,  was  forgotten  in  the  heat  of  intemper- 
ate struggles  for  empty  honors  and  powerless  offices.  On 
top  of  that,  with  the  panic  of  1873  and  the  ensuing  pro- 
longed depression,  the  political  drift  asserted  itself  in 
socialism  as  it  had  in  the  labor  movement  in  general  and 
the  movement,  erstwhile  devoted  primarily  to  organiza- 
tion of  trade  unions,  entered,  urged  on  by  the  Lassalleans, 
into  a  series  of  political  campaigns  somewhat  successful 
at  first  but  soon  succumbing  to  the  inevitable  fate  of  all 
amateurish  attempts.  Upon  men  of  Strasser's  practical 
mental  grasp  these  petty  tempests  in  the  melting  pot 
could  only  produce  an  impression  of  sheer  futility,  and 
he  turned  to  trade  unionism  as  the  only  activity  worth 
his  while.  Strasser  had  been  elected  president  of  the 
Cigar  Makers'  International  Union  in  1877,  in  the  midst 
of  a  great  strike  in  New  York  against  the  tenement-house 

The  president  of  the  local  New  York  union  of  cigar 
makers  was  at  the  time  Samuel  Gompers,  a  young  man 
of  twenty-seven,  who  was  born  in  England  and  came  to 
America  in  1862.  In  his  endeavor  to  build  up  a  model 
for  the  "new"  unionism  and  in  his  almost  uninterrupted 


headship  of  that  movement  for  forty  years  is  indicated 
Gompers'  truly  representative  character.  Born  of  Dutch- 
Jewish  parents  in  England  in  1850,  he  typifies  the  cos- 
mopolitan origins  of  American  unionism.  His  early 
contact  in  the  union  of  his  trade  with  men  like  Strasser, 
upon  whom  the  ideas  of  Marx  and  the  International 
Workingmen's  Association  had  left  an  indelible  stamp, 
and  his  thorough  study  of  Marx  gave  him  that  grounding 
both  in  idealism  and  class  consciousness  which  has  pro- 
duced many  strong  leaders  of  American  unions  and  saved 
them  from  defection  to  other  interests.  Aggressive  and 
uncompromising  in  a  perpetual  fight  for  the  strongest 
possible  position  and  power  of  trade  unions,  but  always 
strong  for  collective  agreements  with  the  opposing  em- 
ployers, he  displays  the  business  tactics  of  organized 
labor.  At  the  head  of  an  organization  which  denies  itself 
power  over  its  constituent  unions,  he  has  brought  and 
held  together  the  most  widely  divergent  and  often  an- 
tagonistic unions,  while  permitting  each  to  develop  and 
even  to  change  its  character  to  fit  the  changing  industrial 

The  dismal  failure  of  the  strike  against  the  tenement 
house  system  in  cigar  making  brought  home  to  both 
Strasser  and  Gompers  the  weakness  of  the  plan  of  or- 
ganization of  their  union  as  well  as  that  of  American 
trade  unions  in  general.  They  consequently  resolved  to 
rebuild  their  union  upon  the  pattern  of  the  British 
unions,  although  they  firmly  intended  that  it  should  re- 
main a  militant  organization.  The  change  involved,  first, 
complete  authority  over  the  local  unions  in  the  hands  of 
the  international  officers ;  second,  an  increase  in  the  mem- 
bership dues  for  the  purpose  of  building  up  a  large  fund ; 
and,  third,  the  adoption  of  a  far-reaching  benefit  system 


in  order  to  assure  stability  to  the  organization.  This  was 
accomplished  at  the  convention  held  in  August,  1879. 
This  convention  simultaneously  adopted  the  British  idea 
of  the  "equalization  of  funds,"  which  gave  the  interna- 
tional officers  the  power  to  order  a  well-to-do  local  union 
to  transfer  a  portion  of  its  funds  to  another  local  union 
in  financial  straits.  With  the  various  modifications  of  the 
feature  of  "equalization  of  funds,"  the  system  of  govern- 
ment in  the  Cigar  Makers*  International  Union  was  later 
used  as  a  model  by  the  other  national  and  international 
trade  unions. 

As  Strasser  and  men  of  his  ilk  grew  more  and  more 
absorbed  in  the  practical  problems  of  the  everyday  strug- 
gle of  the  wage-earners  for  better  conditions  of  employ- 
ment, the  socialistic  portion  of  their  original  philosophy 
kept  receding  further  and  further  into  the  background 
until  they  arrived  at  pure  trade  unionism.  But  their 
trade  unionism  differed  vastly  from  the  "native"  Ameri- 
can trade  unionism  of  their  time,  which  still  hankered  for 
the  haven  of  producers'  cooperation.  The  philosophy 
which  these  new  leaders  developed  might  be  termed  a 
philosophy  of  pure  wage-consciousness.  It  signified  a 
labor  movement  reduced  to  an  opportunistic  basis,  ac- 
cepting the  existence  of  capitalism  and  having  for  its 
object  the  enlarging  of  the  bargaining  power  of  the  wage 
earner  in  the  sale  of  his  labor.  Its  opportunism  was 
instrumental — its  idealism  was  home  and  family  and  in- 
dividual betterment.  It  also  implied  an  attitude  of  aloof- 
ness from  all  those  movements  which  aspire  to  replace  the 
wage  system  by  cooperation,  whether  voluntary  or  sub- 
sidized by  government,  whether  greenbackism,  socialism, 
or  anarchism. 

Perhaps  the  most  concise  definition  of  this  philosophy 


is  to  be  found  in  Strasser's  testimony  before  the  Senate 
Committee  on  Education  and  Labor  in  1883: 

"Q.     You  are  seeking  to  improve  home  matters  first? 

"A.  Yes,  sir,  I  look  first  to  the  trade  I  represent;  I 
look  first  to  cigars,  to  the  interests  of  men  who  employ 
me  to  represent  their  interest. 

"Chairman:  I  was  only  asking  you  in  regard  to  your 
ultimate  ends. 

"Witness:  We  have  no  ultimate  ends.  We  are  going 
on  from  day  to  day.  We  are  fighting  only  for  immediate 
objects — objects  that  can  be  realized  in  a  few  years. 

"By  Mr.  Call :  Q.  You  want  something  better  to  eat 
and  to  wear,  and  better  houses  to  live  in? 

"A.  Yes,  we  want  to  dress  better  and  to  live  better, 
and  become  better  citizens  generally. 

"The  Chairman:  I  see  that  you  are  a  little  sensitive 
lest  it  should  be  thought  that  you  are  a  mere  theoriser,  I 
do  not  look  upon  you  in  that  light  at  all. 

"The  Witness:  Well,  we  say  in  our  constitution  that 
we  are  opposed  to  theorists,  and  I  have  to  represent  the 
organization  here.  We  are  all  practical  men." 

Another  offshoot  of  the  same  Marxian  Internationale 
were  the  "Chicago  Anarchists."  *  The  Internationale,  as 
we  saw,  emphasized  trade  unionism  as  the  first  step  in  the 
direction  of  socialism,  in  opposition  to  the  political  social- 
ism of  Lassalle,  which  ignored  the  trade  union  and  would 
start  with  a  political  party  outright.  Shorn  of  its 
socialistic  futurity  this  philosophy  became  non-political 
"business"  unionism;  but,  when  combined  with  a  strong 
revolutionary  spirit,  it  became  a  non-political  revolu- 
tionary unionism,  or  syndicalism. 

The  organization  of  those  industrial  revolutionaries 
was  called  the  International  Working  People's  Associa- 

1  The  Anarchists  who  were  tried  and  executed  after  the  Haymarket 
Square  bomb  in  Chicago  in  May,  1886.  See  below,  91-93. 


tion,  also  known  as  the  "Black"  or  anarchist  Interna- 
tional, which  was  formed  at  Pittsburgh  in  1883.  Like 
the  old  Internationale  it  busied  itself  with  forming  trade 
unions,  but  insisted  that  they  conform  to  a  revolutionary 
model.  Such  a  "model"  trade  union  was  the  Federation 
of  Metal  Workers  of  America,  which  was  organized  in 
1885.  It  said  in  its  Declaration  of  Principles  that  the 
entire  abolition  of  the  present  system  of  society  can  alone 
emancipate  the  workers,  but  under  no  consideration 
should  they  resort  to  politics ;  "our  organization  should 
be  a  school  to  educate  its  members  for  the  new  condition 
of  society,  when  the  workers  will  regulate  their  own 
affairs  without  any  interference  by  the  few.  Since  the 
emancipation  of  the  productive  classes  must  come  by 
their  own  efforts,  it  is  unwise  to  meddle  in  present  politics. 
.  .  .  All  direct  struggles  of  the  laboring  masses  have  our 
fullest  sympathy."  Alongside  the  revolutionary  trade 
unions  were  workers'  armed  organizations  ready  to  usher 
in  the  new  order  by  force.  "By  force,"  recited  the  Pitts- 
burgh Manifesto  of  the  Black  International,  "our  an- 
cestors liberated  themselves  from  political  oppression,  by 
force  their  children  will  have  to  liberate  themselves  from 
ecenomic  bondage.  It  is,  therefore,  your  right,  it  is  your 
duty,  says  Jefferson, — to  arms  !" 

The  following  ten  years  were  to  decide  whether  the 
leadership  of  the  American  labor  movement  was  to  be 
with  the  "practical  men  of  the  trade  unions"  or  with 
the  cooperative  idealists  of  the  Knights  of  Labor. 


With  the  return  of  business  prosperity  in  1879,  the 
labor  movement  revived.  The  first  symptom  of  the  up- 
ward trend  was  a  rapid  multiplication  of  city  federations 
of  organized  trades,  variously  known  as  trade  councils, 
amalgamated  trade  and  labor  unions,  trades  assemblies, 
and  the  like.  Practically  all  of  these  came  into  existence 
after  1879,  since  hardly  any  of  the  "trades'  assemblies" 
of  the  sixties  had  survived  the  depression. 

As  was  said  above,  the  national  trade  unions  existed 
during  the  sixties  and  seventies  in  only  about  thirty 
trades.  Eighteen  of  these  had  either  retained  a  nucleus 
during  the  seventies  or  were  first  formed  during  that 
decade.  The  following  is  a  list  of  the  national  unions  in 
existence  in  1880  with  the  year  of  formation:  Typo- 
graphical (1850),  Hat  Finishers  (1854),  Iron  Holders 
(1859),  Locomotive  Engineers  (1863),  Cigar  Makers 
(1864),  Bricklayers  and  Masons  (1865),  Silk  and  Fur 
Hat  Finishers  (1866),  Railway  Conductors  (1868), 
Coopers  (1870),  German- American  Typographia  (1873), 
Locomotive  Firemen  (1873),  Horseshoers  (1874),  Furni- 
ture Workers  (1873),  Iron  and  Steel  Workers  (1876), 
Granite  Cutters  (1877),  Lake  Seamen  (1878),  Cotton 
Mill  Spinners  (1878),  New  England  Boot  and  Shoe 
Lasters  (1879). 

In  1880  the  Western  greenbottle  blowers'  national 
union  was  established;  in  1881  the  national  unions  of 



boiler  makers  and  carpenters ;  in  1882,  plasterers  and 
metal  workers ;  in  1883,  tailors,  lithographers,  wood 
carvers,  railroad  brakemen,  and  silk  workers. 

An  illustration  of  the  rapid  growth  in  trade  union 
membership  during  this,  period  is  given  in  the  following 
figures :  the  bricklayers'  union  had  303  in  1880 ;  1558 
in  1881 ;  6848  in  1882 ;  9193  in  1883.  The  typographi- 
cal union  had  5968  members  in  1879;  6520  in  1880;  7931 
in  1881 ;  10,439  in  1882 ;  12,273  in  1883.  The  total  trade 
union  membership  in  the  country,  counting  the  three  rail- 
way organizations  and  those  organized  only  locally, 
amounted  to  between  200,000  and  225,000  in  1883  and 
probably  was  not  below  300,000  in  the  beginning  of  1885. 

A  distinguishing  characteristic  of  the  trade  unions  of 
this  time  was  the  predominance  in  them  of  the  foreign 
element.  The  Illinois  Bureau  of  Labor  describes  the 
ethnical  composition  of  the  trade  unions  of  that  State 
during  1886,  and  states  that  21  per  cent,  were  American, 
33  per  cent.  German,  19  per  cent.  Irish,  10  per  cent. 
British  other  than  Irish,  12  per  cent.  Scandinavian,  and 
the  Poles,  Bohemians,  and  Italians  formed  about  5  per 
cent.  The  strong  predominance  of  the  foreign  element 
in  American  trade  unions  should  not  appear  unusual, 
since,  owing  to  the  breakdown  of  the  apprenticeship  sys- 
tem, the  United  States  had  been  drawing  its  supply  of 
skilled  labor  from  abroad. 

The  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,  despite  its  "First 
Principles"  based  on  the  cooperative  ideal,  was  soon 
forced  to  make  concessions  to  a  large  element  of  its  mem- 
bership which  was  pressing  for  strikes.  With  the  advent 
of  prosperity,  the  Order  expanded,  although  the  Knights 
of  Labor  played  but  a  subordinate  part  in  the  labor 
movement  of  the  early  eighties.  The  membership  was 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        83 

20,151  in  1879 ;  28,136  in  1880 ;  19,422  in  1881 ;  42,517 
in  1882;  51,914  in  1883;  showing  a  steady  and  rapid 
growth,  with  the  exception  of  the  year  1881.  But  these 
figures  are  decidedly  deceptive  as  a  means  of  measuring 
the  strength  of  the  Order,  for  the  membership  fluctuated 
widely;  so  that  in  the  year  1883,  when  it  reached  50,000 
no  less  than  one-half  of  this  number  passed  in  and  out 
of  the  organization  during  the  year.  The  enormous 
fluctuation,  while  reducing  the  economic  strength  of  the 
Order,  brought  large  masses  of  people  under  its  influence 
and  prepared  the  ground  for  the  upheaval  in  the  middle 
of  the  eighties.  It  also  brought  the  Order  to  the  attention 
of  the  public  press.  The  labor  press  gave  the  Order 
great  publicity,  but  the  Knights  did  not  rely  on  gratui- 
tous newspaper  publicity.  They  set  to  work  a  host  of 
lecturers,  who  held  public  meetings  throughout  the  coun- 
try adding  recruits  and  advertising  the  Order. 

The  most  important  Knights  of  Labor  strike  of  this 
period  was  the  telegraphers'  strike  in  1883.  The  teleg- 
raphers had  a  national  organization  in  1870,  which  soon 
collapsed.  In  1882  they  again  organized  on  a  national 
basis  and  affiliated  with  the  Order  as  District  Assembly 
45. l  The  strike  was  declared  on  June  19,  1883,  against 
all  commercial  telegraph  companies  in  the  country,  among 
which  the  Western  Union,  with  about  4000  operators, 
was  by  far  the  largest.  The  demands  were  one  day's  rest 
in  seven,  an  eight-hour  day  shift  and  a  seven-hour  night 
shift,  and  a  general  increase  of  15  per  cent,  in  wages. 
The  public  and  a  large  portion  of  the  press  gave  their 
sympathy  to  the  strikers,  not  so  much  on  account  of  the 
oppressed  condition  of  the  telegraphers  as  of  the  general 

'See  the  next  chapter  for  the  scheme  of  organization  followed  by 
the  Order. 


hatred  that  prevailed  against  Jay  Gould,  who  then  con- 
trolled the  Western  Union  Company.  This  strike  was 
the  first  in  the  eighties  to  call  the  attention  of  the  general 
American  public  to  the  existence  of  a  labor  question,  and 
received  considerable  attention  at  the  hands  of  the  Senate 
Committee  on  Education  and  Labor.  By  the  end  of  July, 
over  a  month  after  the  beginning  of  the  strike,  the  men 
who  escaped  the  blacklist  went  back  to  work  on  the  old 

From  1879  till  1882  the  labor  movement  was  typical 
of  a  period  of  rising  prices.  It  was  practically  restricted 
to  skilled  workmen,  who  organized  to  wrest  from  employ- 
ers still  better  conditions  than  those  which  prosperity 
would  have  given  under  individual  bargaining.  The 
movement  was  essentially  opportunistic  and  displayed  no 
particular  class  feeling  and  no  revolutionary  tendencies. 
The  solidarity  of  labor  was  not  denied  by  the  trade 
unions,  but  they  did  not  try  to  reduce  the  idea  to  practice : 
each  trade  coped  more  or  less  successfully  with  its  own 
employers.  Even  the  Knights  of  Labor,  the  organization 
par  excellence  of  the  solidarity  of  labor,  was  at  this  time, 
in  so  far  as  practical  efforts  went,  merely  a  faint  echo  of 
the  trade  unions. 

But  the  situation  radically  changed  during  the  de- 
pression of  1884-1885.  The  unskilled  and  the  semi- 
skilled, affected  as  they  were  by  wage  reductions  and  un- 
employment even  in  a  larger  measure  than  the  skilled, 
were  drawn  into  the  movement.  Labor  organizations 
assumed  the  nature  of  a  real  class  movement.  The  idea 
of  the  solidarity  of  labor  ceased  to  be  merely  verbal  and 
took  on  life !  General  strikes,  sympathetic  strikes,  nation- 
wide boycotts  and  nation-wide  political  movements  be- 
came the  order  of  the  day.  The  effects  of  an  unusually 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        85 

large  immigration  joined  hands  with  the  depression.  The 
eighties  were  the  banner  decade  of  the  entire  century  for 
immigration.  The  aggregate  number  of  immigrants  ar- 
riving was  5,246,613 — two  and  a  half  millions  larger 
than  during  the  seventies  and  one  million  and  a  half 
larger  than  during  the  nineties.  The  eighties  witnessed 
the  highest  tide  of  immigration  from  Great  Britain  and 
the  North  of  Europe  and  the  beginning  of  the  tide  of 
South  and  East  European  immigration. 

However,  the  depression  of  1883-1885  had  one  re- 
deeming feature  by  which  it  was  distinguished  from  other 
depressions.  With  falling  prices,  diminishing  margins 
of  profit,  and  decreasing  wages,  the  amount  of  employ- 
ment was  not  materially  diminished.  Times  continued 
hard  during  1885,  a  slight  improvement  showing  itself 
only  during  the  last  months  of  the  year.  The  years  1886 
and  1887  were  a  period  of  gradual  recovery,  and  normal 
conditions  may  be  said  to  have  returned  about  the  middle 
of  1887.  Except  in  New  England,  the  old  wages,  which 
had  been  reduced  during  the  bad  years,  were  won  again 
by  the  spring  of  1887. 

The  year  1884  was  one  of  decisive  failure  in  strikes. 
They  were  practically  all  directed  against  reductions  in 
wages  and  for  the  right  of  organization.  The  most  con- 
spicuous strikes  were  those  of  the  Fall  River  spinners,  the 
Troy  stove  mounters,  the  Cincinnati  cigar  makers  and  the 
Hocking  Valley  coal  miners. 

The  failure  of  strikes  brought  into  use  the  other 
weapon  of  labor — the  boycott.  But  not  until  the  latter 
part  of  1884,  when  the  failure  of  the  strike  as  a  weapon 
became  apparent,  did  the  boycott  assume  the  nature  of 
an  epidemic.  The  boycott  movement  was  a  truly  national 
one,  affecting  the  South  and  the  Far  West  as  well  as  the 


East  and  Middle  West.  The  number  of  boycotts  during 
1885  was  nearly  seven  times  as  large  as  during  1884. 
Nearly  all  of  the  boycotts  either  originated  with,  or  were 
taken  up  by,  the  Knights  of  Labor. 

The  strike  again  came  into  prominence  in  the  latter 
half  of  1885.  This  coincided  with  the  beginning  of  an 
upward  trend  in  general  business  conditions.  The  strikes 
of  1885,  even  more  than  those  of  the  preceding  year, 
were  spontaneous  outbreaks  of  unorganized  masses. 

The  frequent  railway  strikes  were  a  characteristic 
feature  of  the  labor  movement  in  1885.  Most  notable  was 
the  Gould  railway  strike  in  March,  1885.  On  February 
26,  a  cut  of  10  per  cent,  was  ordered  in  the  wages  of  the 
shopmen  of  the  Wabash  road.  A  similar  reduction  had 
been  made  in  October,  1884,  on  the  Missouri,  Kansas  & 
Texas.  Strikes  occurred  on  the  two  roads,  one  on  Feb- 
ruary 27  and  the  other  March  9,  and  the  strikers  were 
joined  by  the  men  on  the  third  Gould  road,  the  Missouri 
Pacific,  at  all  points  where  the  two  lines  touched,  making 
altogether  over  4500  men  on  strike.  The  train  service 
personnel,  that  is,  the  locomotive  engineers,  firemen, 
brakemen,  and  conductors,  supported  the  strikers  and 
to  this  fact  more  than  to  any  other  was  due  their  speedy 
victory.  The  wages  were  restored  and  the  strikers  re- 
employed.  But  six  months  later  this  was  followed  by  a 
second  strike.  The  road,  now  in  the  hands  of  a  receiver, 
reduced  the  force  of  shopmen  at  Moberly,  Missouri,  to 
the  lowest  possible  limit,  which  virtually  meant  a  lockout 
of  the  members  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  in  direct  viola- 
tion of  the  conditions  of  settlement  of  the  preceding 
strike.  The  General  Executive  Board  of  the  Knights, 
after  a  futile  attempt  to  have  a  conference  with  the  re- 
ceiver, declared  a  boycott  on  Wabash  rolling  stock. 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        87 

This  order,  had  it  been  carried  out,  would  have  affected 
over  20,000  miles  of  railway  and  would  have  equalled  the 
dimensions  of  the  great  railway  strike  of  1877.  But  Jay 
Gould  would  not  risk  a  general  strike  on  his  lines  at  this 
time.  According  to  an  appointment  made  between  him 
and  the  executive  board  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,  a  con- 
ference was  held  between  that  board  and  the  managers  of 
the  Missouri  Pacific  and  the  Wabash  railroads,  at  which 
he  threw  his  influence  in  favor  of  making  concessions  to 
the  men.  He  assured  the  Knights  that  in  all  troubles  he 
wanted  the  men  to  come  directly  to  him,  that  he  believed 
in  labor  organizations  and  in  the  arbitration  of  all  diffi- 
culties and  that  he  "would  always  endeavor  to  do  what 
was  right."  The  Knights  demanded  the  discharge  of  all 
new  men  hired  in  the  Wabash  shops  since  the  beginning 
of  the  lockout,  the  reinstatement  of  all  discharged  men, 
the  leaders  being  given  priority,  and  an  assurance  that 
no  discrimination  against  the  members  of  the  Order  would 
be  made  in  the  future.  A  settlement  was  finally  made  at 
another  conference,  and  the  receiver  of  the  Wabash  road 
agreed,  under  pressure  by  Jay  Gould,  to  issue  an  order 
conceding  the  demands  of  the  Knights  of  Labor. 

The  significance  of  the  second  Wabash  strike  in  the 
history  of  railway  strikes  was  that  the  railway  brother- 
hoods (engineers,  firemen,  brakemen,  and  conductors), 
in  contrast  with  their  conduct  during  the  first  Wabash 
strike,  now  refused  to  lend  any  aid  to  the  striking  shop- 
men, although  many  of  the  members  were  also  Knights  of 

But  far  more  important  was  the  effect  of  the  strike 
upon  the  general  labor  movement.  Here  a  labor  organ- 
ization for  the  first  time  dealt  on  an  equal  footing  with 
probably  the  most  powerful  capitalist  in  the  country.  It 


forced  Jay  Gould  to  recognize  it  as  a  power  equal  to 
himself,  a  fact  which  he  conceded  when  he  declared  his 
readiness  to  arbitrate  all  labor  difficulties  that  might 
arise.  The  oppressed  laboring  masses  finally  discovered  a 
powerful  champion.  All  the  pent-up  feeling  of  bitterness 
and  resentment  which  had  accumulated  during  the  two 
years  of  depression,  in  consequence  of  the  repeated  cuts 
in  wages  and  the  intensified  domination  by  employers, 
now  found  vent  in  a  rush  to  organize  under  the  banner 
of  the  powerful  Knights  of  Labor.  To  the  natural  tend- 
ency on  the  part  of  the  oppressed  to  exaggerate  the 
power  of  a  mysterious  emancipator  whom  they  suddenly 
found  coming  to  their  aid,  there  was  added  the  influence 
of  sensational  reports  in  the  public  press.  The  news- 
papers especially  took  delight  in  exaggerating  the  powers 
and  strength  of  the  Order. 

In  1885  the  New  York  Sun  detailed  one  of  its 
reporters  to  "get  up  a  story  of  the  strength  and 
purposes  of  the  Knights  of  Labor."  This  story  was 
copied  by  newspapers  and  magazines  throughout  the 
country  and  aided  considerably  in  bringing  the  Knights 
of  Labor  into  prominence.  The  following  extract  illus- 
trates the  exaggerated  notion  of  the  power  of  the  Knights 
of  Labor. 

"Five  men  in  this  country  control  the  chief  interests 
of  five  hundred  thousand  workingmen,  and  can  at  any 
moment  take  the  means  of  livelihood  from  two  and  a  half 
millions  of  souls.  These  men  compose  the  executive  board 
of  the  Noble  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  of  America. 
The  ability  of  the  president  and  cabinet  to  turn  out  all 
the  men  in  the  civil  service,  and  to  shift  from  one  post 
to  another  the  duties  of  the  men  in  the  army  and  navy, 
is  a  petty  authority  compared  with  that  of  these  five 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        89 

Knights.  The  authority  of  the  late  Cardinal  was,  and 
that  of  the  bishops  of  the  Methodist  Church  is,  narrow 
and  prescribed,  so  far  as  material  affairs  are  concerned, 
in  comparison  with  that  of  these  five  rulers. 

"They  can  stay  the  nimble  touch  of  almost  every 
telegraph  operator;  can  shut  up  most  of  the  mills  and 
factories,  and  can  disable  the  railroads.  They  can  issue 
an  edict  against  any  manufactured  goods  so  as  to  make 
their  subjects  cease  buying  them,  and  the  tradesmen  stop 
selling  them. 

"They  can  array  labor  against  capital,  putting  labor 
on  the  offensive  or  the  defensive,  for  quiet  and  stubborn 
self-protection,  or  for  angry,  organized  assault,  as  they 

Before  long  the  Order  was  able  to  benefit  by  this  pub- 
licity in  quarters  where  the  tale  of  its  great  power  could 
only  attract  unqualified  attention,  namely,  in  Congress. 
The  Knights  of  Labor  led  in  the  agitation  for  prohibiting 
the  immigration  of  alien  contract  laborers.  The  problem 
of  contract  immigrant  labor  rapidly  came  to  the  front 
in  1884,  when  such  labor  began  frequently  to  be  used  to 
defeat  strikes. 

Twenty  persons  appeared  to  testify  before  the  com- 
mittee in  favor  of  the  bill,  of  whom  all  but  two  or  three 
belonged  to  the  Knights  of  Labor.  The  anti-contract 
labor  law  which  was  passed  by  Congress  on  February  2, 
1885,  therefore,  was  due  almost  entirely  to  the  efforts  of 
the  Knights  of  Labor.  The  trade  unions  gave  little  active 
support,  for  to  the  skilled  workingmen  the  importation 
of  contract  Italian  and  Hungarian  laborers  was  a  matter 
of  small  importance.  On  the  other  hand,  to  the  Knights 
of  Labor  with  their  vast  contingent  of  unskilled  it  was 
a  strong  menace.  Although  the  law  could  not  be  enforced 


and  had  to  be  amended  in. 1887  in  order  to  render  it  effec- 
tive, its  passage  nevertheless  attests  the  political  influence 
already  exercised  by  the  Order  in  1885. 

The  outcome  of  the  Gould  strike  of  1885  and  the 
dramatic  exaggeration  of  the  prowess  of  the  Order  by 
press  and  even  by  pulpit  were  largely  responsible  for  the 
psychological  setting  that  called  forth  and  surrounded 
the  great  upheaval  of  1886.  This  upheaval  meant  more 
than  the  mere  quickening  of  the  pace  of  the  movement 
begun  in  preceding  years  and  decades.  It  signalled  the 
appearance  on  the  scene  of  a  new  class  which  had  not 
hitherto  found  a  place  in  the  labor  movement,  namely  the 
unskilled.  All  the  peculiar  characteristics  of  the  dra- 
matic events  in  1886  and  1887,  the  highly  feverish  pace 
at  which  organizations  grew,  the  nation-wide  wave  of 
strikes,  particularly  sympathetic  strikes,  the  wide  use  of 
the  boycott,  the  obliteration,  apparently  complete,  of  all 
lines  that  divided  the  laboring  class,  whether  geographic 
or  trade,  the  violence  and  turbulence  which  accompanied 
the  movement — all  of  these  were  the  signs  of  a  great 
movement  by  the  class  of  the  unskilled,  which  had  finally 
risen  in  rebellion.  This  movement,  rising  as  an  elemental 
protest  against  oppression  and  degradation,  could  be  but 
feebly  restrained  by  any  considerations  of  expediency 
and  prudence;  nor,  of  course,  could  it  be  restrained  by 
any  lessons  from  experience.  But,  if  the  origin  and 
powerful  sweep  of  this  movement  were  largely  spontane- 
ous and  elemental,  the  issues  which  it  took  up  were  sup- 
plied by  the  existing  organizations,  namely  the  trade 
unions  and  the  Knights  of  Labor.  These  served  also  as 
the  dykes  between  which  the  rapid  streams  were  gathered 
and,  if  at  times  it  seemed  that  they  must  burst  under  the 
pressure,  still  they  gave  form  and  direction  to  the  move- 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        91 

ment  and  partly  succeeded  in  introducing  order  where 
chaos  had  reigned.  The  issue  which  first  brought  unity 
in  this  great  mass  movement  was  a  nation-wide  strike  for 
the  eight-hour  day  declared  for  May  1,  1886. 

The  initiative  in  this  strike  was  taken  not  by  the  Order 
but  by  the  trade  unionists  and  on  the  eve  of  the  strike 
the  general  officers  of  the  Knights  adopted  an  attitude 
of  hostility.  But  if  the  slogan  failed  to  arouse  the  en- 
thusiasm of  the  national  leaders  of  the  Knights,  it  never- 
theless found  ready  response  in  the  ranks  of  labor.  The 
great  class  of  the  unskilled  and  unorganized,  which  had 
come  to  look  upon  the  Knights  of  Labor  as  the  all- 
powerful  liberator  of  the  laboring  masses  from  oppres- 
sion, now  eagerly  seized  upon  this  demand  as  the  issue 
upon  which  the  first  battle  with  capital  should  be  fought. 

The  agitation  assumed  large  proportions  in  March. 
The  main  argument  for  the  shorter  day  was  work  for  the 
unemployed.  With  the  exception  of  the  cigar  makers,  it 
was  left  wholly  in  the  hands  of  local  organizations.  The 
Knights  of  Labor  as  an  organization  figured  far  less 
prominently  than  the  trade  unions,  and  among  the  latter 
the  building  trades  and  the  German-speaking  furniture 
workers  and  cigar  makers  stood  in  the  front  of  the  move- 
ment. Early  in  the  strike  the  workingmen's  cause  was 
gravely  injured  by  a  bomb  explosion  on  Haymarket 
Square  in  Chicago,  attributed  to  anarchists,  which  killed 
and  wounded  a  score  of  policemen. 

The  bomb  explosion  on  Haymarket  Square  connected 
two  movements  which  had  heretofore  marched  separately, 
despite  a  certain  mutual  affinity.  For  what  many  of  the 
Knights  of  Labor  were  practising  during  the  upheaval  in 
a  less  drastic  manner  and  without  stopping  to  look  for  a 
theoretical  justification,  the  contemporary  Chicago  "an- 


archists,"  *  the  largest  branch  of  the  "Black  Interna- 
tional," had  elevated  into  a  well  rounded-out  system  of 
thought.  Both  syndicalism  and  the  Knights  of  Labor 
upheaval  were  related  chapters  in  the  revolutionary 
movement  of  the  eighties.  Whether  in  its  conscious  or 
unconscious  form,  this  syndicalism  was  characterized  by 
an  extreme  combativeness,  by  the  ease  with  which  minor 
disputes  grew  into  widespread  strikes  involving  many 
trades  and  large  territories,  by  a  reluctance,  if  not  an 
out  and  out  refusal,  to  enter  into  agreements  with  em- 
ployers however  temporary,  and  lastly  by  a  ready  resort 
to  violence.  In  1886  the  membership  of  the  Black  Inter- 
national probably  was  about  5000  or  6000  and  of  this 
number  about  1000  were  English  speaking. 

The  circumstances  of  the  bomb  explosion  were  the  fol- 
lowing. A  strikers'  meeting  was  held  near  the  McCormick 
Reaper  Works  in  Chicago,  late  on  the  third  of  May. 
About  this  time  strike-breakers  employed  in  these  works 
began  to  leave  for  home  and  were  attacked  by  strikers. 
The  police  arrived  in  large  numbers  and  upon  being  re- 
ceived with  stones,  fired  and  killed  four  and  wounded 
many.  The  same  evening  the  International  issued  a  call 
in  which  appeared  the  word  "Revenge"  with  the  appeal: 
"Workingmen,  arm  yourselves  and  appear  in  full  force." 
A  protest  mass  meeting  met  the  next  day  on  Haymarket 
Square  and  was  addressed  by  Internationalists.  The 
police  were  present  in  numbers  and,  as  they  formed  in 
line  and  advanced  on  the  crowd,  some  unknown  hand 
hurled  a  bomb  into  their  midst  killing  and  wounding 

It  is  unnecessary  to  describe  here  the  period  of  police 
terror  in  Chicago,  the  hysterical  attitude  of  the  press, 
'See  above,  79-80. 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        93 

or  the  state  of  panic  that  came  over  the  inhabitants  of 
the  city.  Nor  is  it  necessary  to  deal  in  detail  with  the 
trial  and  sentence  of  the  accused.  Suffice  it  to  say  that 
the  Haymarket  bomb  showed  to  the  labor  movement  what 
it  might  expect  from  the  public  and  the  government  if  it 
combined  violence  with  a  revolutionary  purpose. 

Although  the  bomb  outrage  was  attributed  to  the 
anarchists  and  not  generally  to  the  strikers  for  the  eight- 
hour  day,  it  did  materially  reduce  the  sympathy  of  the 
public  as  well  as  intimidate  many  strikers.  Nevertheless, 
Bradstreet's  estimated  that  no  fewer  than  340,000  men 
took  part  in  the  movement ;  190,000  actually  struck,  only 
42,000  of  this  number  with  success,  and  150,000  secured 
shorter  hours  without  a  strike.  Thus  the  total  number 
of  those  who  secured  with  or  without  strikes  the  eight- 
hour  day  was  something  less  than  200,000.  But  even 
those  who  for  the  present  succeeded,  whether  with  or 
without  striking,  soon  lost  the  concession,  and  Brad- 
street's  estimated  in  January,  1887,  that,  so  far  as  the 
payment  of  former  wages  for  a  shorter  day's  work  is 
concerned,  the  grand  total  of  those  retaining  the  conces- 
sion did  not  exceed,  if  it  equalled,  15,000. 

American  labor  movements  have  never  experienced 
such  a  rush  to  organize  as  the  one  in  the  latter  part  of 
1885  and  during  1886.  During  1886  the  combined  mem- 
bership of  labor  organizations  was  exceptionally  large 
and  for  the  first  time  came  near  the  million  mark.  The 
Knights  of  Labor  had  a  membership  of  700,000  and  the 
trade  unions  at  least  250,000,  the  former  composed 
largely  of  unskilled  and  the  latter  of  skilled.  The 
Knights  of  Labor  gained  in  a  remarkably  short  time — in 
a  few  months — over  600,000  new  members  and  grew  from 
1610  local  assemblies  with  104,066  members  in  good 


standing  in  July  1885,  to  5892  assemblies  with  702,924 
members  in  July  1886.  The  greatest  portion  of  this 
growth  occurred  after  January  1,  1886.  In  the  state  of 
New  York  there  were  in  July  1886,  about  110,000  mem- 
bers (60,809  in  District  Assembly  49  of  New  York  City 
alone);  in  Pennsylvania,  95,000  (51,557  in  District  As- 
sembly 1,  Philadelphia,  alone)  ;  in  Massachusetts,  90,000 
(81,191  in  District  Assembly  30  of  Boston)  ;  and  in  Illi- 
nois, 32,000. 

In  the  state  of  Illinois,  for  which  detailed  information 
for  that  year  is  available,  there  were  204  local  assemblies 
with  34,974  members,  of  which  65  per  cent,  were  found 
in  Cook  County  (Chicago)  alone.  One  hundred  and 
forty-nine  assemblies  were  mixed,  that  is  comprised  mem- 
bers of  different  trades  including  unskilled  and  only  55 
were  trade  assemblies.  Reckoned  according  to  country 
of  birth  the  membership  was  45  per  cent.  American,  16 
per  cent.  German,  13  per  cent.  Irish,  10  per  cent.  British, 
5  per  cent.  Scandinavian,  and  the  remaining  2  per  cent, 
scattered.  The  trade  unions  also  gained  many  members 
but  in  a  considerably  lesser  proportion. 

The  high  water  mark  was  reached  in  the  autumn  of 
1886.  But  in  the  early  months  of  1887  a  reaction  be- 
came visible.  By  July  1,  the  membership  of  the  Order  had 
diminished  to  510,351.  While  a  share  of  this  retrogres- 
sion may  have  been  due  to  the  natural  reaction  of  large 
masses  of  people  who  had  been  suddenly  set  in  motion 
without  experience,  a  more  immediate  cause  came  from 
the  employers.  Profiting  by  past  lessons,  they  organized 
strong  associations.  The  main  object  of  these  employers' 
associations  was  the  defeat  of  the  Knights.  They  were 
organized  sectionally  and  nationally.  In  small  localities, 
where  the  power  of  the  Knights  was  especially  great,  all 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        95 

employers  regardless  of  industry  joined  in  a  single  asso- 
ciation. But  in  large  manufacturing  centers,  where  the 
rich  corporation  prevailed,  they  included  the  employers 
of  only  one  industry.  To  attain  their  end  these  associa- 
tions made  liberal  use  of  the  lockout,  the  blacklist,  and 
armed  guards  and  detectives.  Often  they  treated  agree- 
ments entered  into  with  the  Order  as  contracts  signed 
under  duress.  The  situation  in  the  latter  part  of  1886 
and  in  1887  had  been  clearly  foreshadowed  in  the  treat- 
ment accorded  the  Knights  of  Labor  on  the  Gould  rail- 
ways in  the  Southwest  in  the  early  part  of  1886. 

As  already  mentioned,  at  the  settlement  of  the  strike 
on  the  Gould  system  in  March  1885,  the  employes  were 
assured  that  the  road  would  institute  no  discriminations 
against  the  Knights  of  Labor.  However,  it  is  apparent 
that  a  series  of  petty  discriminations  was  indulged  in 
by  minor  officials,  which  kept  the  men  in  a  state  of  unrest. 
It  culminated  in  the  discharge  of  a  foreman,  a  member 
of  the  Knights,  from  the  car  shop  at  Marshall,  Texas, 
on  the  Texas  &  Pacific  Road,  which  had  shortly  before 
passed  into  the  hands  of  a  receiver.  A  strike  broke  out 
over  the  entire  road  on  March  1,  1886.  It  is  necessary, 
however,  to  note  that  the  Knights  of  Labor  themselves 
were  meditating  aggressive  action  two  months  before 
the  strike.  District  Assembly  101,  the  organization  em- 
bracing the  employes  on  the  Southwest  system,  held  a 
convention  on  January  10,  and  authorized  the  officers  to 
call  a  strike  at  any  time  they  might  find  opportune  to 
enforce  the  two  following  demands :  first,  the  formal 
"recognition"  of  the  Order;  and  second,  a  daily  wage  of 
$1 .50  for  the  unskilled.  The  latter  demand  is  peculiarly 
characteristic  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  and  of  the  feeling 
of  labor  solidarity  that  prevailed  in  the  movement.  But 


evidently  the  organization  preferred  to  make  the  issue 
turn  on  discrimination  against  members.  Another  pe- 
culiarity which  marked  off  this  strike  as  the  beginning 
of  a  new  era  was  the  facility  with  which  it  led  to  a  sym- 
pathetic strike  on  the  Missouri  Pacific  and  all  leased  and 
operated  lines.  This  strike  broke  out  simultaneously  over 
the  entire  system  on  March  6.  It  affected  more  than 
5000  miles  of  railway  situated  in  Missouri,  Kansas, 
Arkansas,  Indian  Territory,  and  Nebraska.  The  strikers 
did  not  content  themselves  with  mere  picketing,  but  actu- 
ally took  possession  of  the  railroad  property  and  by  a 
systematic  "killing"  of  engines,  that  is  removing  some  in- 
dispensable part,  effectively  stopped  all  the  freight  traffic. 
The  number  of  men  actively  on  strike  was  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  9000,  including  practically  all  of  the  shopmen, 
yardmen,  and  section  gangs.  The  engineers,  firemen, 
brakemen,  and  conductors  .took  no  active  part  and  had 
to  be  forced  to  leave  their  posts  under  threats  from  the 

The  leader,  one  Martin  Irons,  accurately  represented 
the  feelings  of  the  strikers.  Personally  honest  and  prob- 
ably well-meaning,  his  attitude  was  overbearing  and  tyran- 
nical. With  him  as  with  those  who  followed  him,  a  strike 
was  not  a  more  or  less  drastic  means  of  forcing  a  better 
labor  contract,  but  necessarily  assumed  the  aspect  of  a 
crusade  against  capital.  Hence  all  compromise  and  any 
policy  of  give  and  take  were  excluded. 

Negotiations  were  conducted  by  Jay  Gould  and  Pow- 
derly  to  submit  the  dispute  to  arbitration,  but  they  failed 
and,  'after  two  months  of  sporadic  violence,  the  strike 
spent  itself  and  came  to  an  end.  It  left,  however,  a  pro- 
found impression  upon  the  public  mind,  second  only  to  the 
impression  made  by  the  great  railway  strike  of  1877 ;  and 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        97 

a  Congressional  committee  was  appointed  to  investigate 
the  whole  matter. 

The  disputes  during  the  second  half  of  1886  ended,  for 
the  most  part,  disastrously  to  labor.  The  number  of 
men  involved  in  six  months,  was  estimated  at  97,300.  Of 
these,  about  75,300  were  in  nine  great  lockouts,  of  whom 
54,000  suffered  defeat  at  the  hands  of  associated  em- 
ployers. The  most  important  lockouts  were  against 
15,000  laundry  workers  at  Troy,  New  York,  in  June; 
against  20,000  Chicago  packing  house  workers;  and 
against  20,000  knitters  at  Cohoes,  New  York,  both  in 

The  lockout  of  the  Chicago  butcher  workmen  attracted 
the  most  attention.  These  men  had  obtained  the  eight- 
hour  day  without  a  strike  during  May.  A  short  time 
thereafter,  upon  the  initiative  of  Armour  &  Company, 
the  employers  formed  a  packers'  association  and,  in  the 
beginning  of  October,  notified  the  men  of  a  return  to  the 
ten-hour  day  on  October  11.  They  justified  this  action 
on  the  ground  that  they  could  not  compete  with  Cincin- 
nati and  Kansas  City,  which  operated  on  the  ten-hour 
system.  On  October  8,  the  men,  who  were  organized  in 
District  Assemblies  27  and  54,  suspended  work,  and  the 
memorable  lockout  began.  The  packers*  association  re- 
jected all  offers  of  compromise  and  on  October  18  the 
men  were  ordered  to  work  on  the  ten-hour  basis.  But 
the  dispute  in  October,  which  was  marked  by  a  complete 
lack  of  ill-feeling  on  the  part  of  the  men  and  was  one  of 
the  most  peaceable  labor  disputes  of  the  year,  was  in 
reality  a  mere  prelude  to  a  second  disturbance  which  broke 
out  in  the  plant  of  Swift  &  Company  on  November  2 
and  became  general  throughout  the  stockyards  on  No- 
vember 6.  The  men  demanded  a  return  to  the  eight-hour 


day,  but  the  packers*  association,  which  was  now  joined 
by  Swift  &  Company,  who  formerly  had  kept  aloof,  not 
only  refused  to  give  up  the  ten-hour  day,  but  declared 
that  they  would  employ  no  Knights  of  Labor  in  the  future. 
The  Knights  retaliated  by  declaring  a  boycott  on  the 
meat  of  Armour  &  Company.  The  behavior  of  the  men 
was  now  no  longer  peaceable  as  before,  and  the  employers 
took  extra  precautions  by  prevailing  upon  the  governor 
to  send  two  regiments  of  militia  in  addition  to  the  several 
hundred  Pinkerton  detectives  employed  by  the  associa- 
tion. To  all  appearances,  the  men  were  slowly  gaining 
over  the  employers,  for  on  November  10  the  packers* 
association  rescinded  its  decision  not  to  employ  Knights, 
when  suddenly  on  November  15,  like  a  thunderbolt  out 
of  a  clear  sky,  a  telegram  arrived  from  Grand  Master 
Workman  Powderly  ordering  the  men  back  to  work. 
Powderly  had  refused  to  consider  the  reports  from  the 
members  of  the  General  Executive  Board  who  were  on  the 
ground,  but,  as  was  charged  by  them,  was  guided  instead 
by  the  advice  of  a  priest  who  had  appealed  to  him  to  call 
off  the  strike  and  thus  put  an  end  to  the  suffering  of  the 
men  and  their  families. 

New  York  witnessed  an  even  more  characteristic 
Knights  of  Labor  strike  and  on  a  larger  scale.  This 
strike  began  as  two  insignificant  separate  strikes,  one  by 
coal-handlers  at  the  Jersey  ports  supplying  New  York 
with  coal  and  the  other  by  longshoremen  on  the  New  York 
water  front;  both  starting  on  January  1,  1887.  Eighty- 
five  coal-handlers  employed  by  the  Philadelphia  &  Reading 
Railroad  Company,  members  of  the  Knights  of  Labor, 
struck  against  a  reduction  of  21/2  cents  an  hour  in  the 
wages  of  the  "top-men"  and  were  joined  by  the  trimmers 
who  had  grievances  of  their  own.  Soon  the  strike  spread 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887        99 

to  the  other  roads  and  the  number  of  striking  coal-han- 
dlers reached  3000.  The  longshoremen's  strike  was  begun 
by  200  men,  employed  by  the  Old  Dominion  Steamship 
Company,  against  a  reduction  in  wages  and  the  hiring 
of  cheap  men  by  the  week.  The  strikers  were  not  organ- 
ized, but  the  Ocean  Association,  a  part  of  the  Knights  of 
Labor,  took  up  their  cause  and  was  assisted  by  the  long- 
shoremen's union.  Both  strikes  soon  widened  out  through 
a  series  of  sympathetic  strikes  of  related  trades  and 
finally  became  united  into  one.  The  Ocean  Association 
declared  a  boycott  on  the  freight  of  the  Old  Dominion 
Company  and  this  was  strictly  obeyed  by  all  of  the  long- 
shoremen's unions.  The  International  Boatmen's  Union 
refused  to  allow  their  boats  to  be  used  for  "scab  coal" 
or  to  permit  their  members  to  steer  the  companies'  boats. 
The  longshoremen  joined  the  boatmen  in  refusing  to 
handle  coal,  and  the  shovelers  followed.  Then  the  grain 
handlers  on  both  floating  and  stationary  elevators  re- 
fused to  load  ships  with  grain  on  which  there  was  scab 
coal,  and  the  bag-sewers  stood  with  them.  The  long- 
shoremen now  resolved  to  go  out  and  refused  to  work  on 
ships  which  received  scab  coal,  and  finally  they  decided 
to  stop  work  altogether  on  all  kinds  of  craft  in  the  harbor 
until  the  trouble  should  be  settled.  The  strike  spirit 
spread  to  a  large  number  of  freight  handlers  working  for 
railroads  along  the  river  front,  so  that  in  the  last  week  of 
January  the  number  of  strikers  in  New  York,  Brooklyn, 
and  New  Jersey,  reached  approximately  28,000;  13,000 
longshoremen,  1000  boatmen,  6000  grain  handlers,  7500 
coal-handlers,  and  400  bag-sewers. 

On  February  11,  August  Corbin,  president  and  receiver 
of  the  Philadelphia  &  Reading  Railroad  Company,  fearing 
a  strike  by  the  miners  working  in  the  coal  mines  operated 

by  that  road,  settled  the  strike  by  restoring  to  the  eighty- 
five  coal-handlers,  the  original  strikers,  their  former  rate 
of  wages.  The  Knights  of  Labor  felt  impelled  to  accept 
such  a  trivial  settlement  for  two  reasons.  The  coal- 
handlers'  strike,  which  drove  up  the  price  of  coal  to  the 
consumer,  was  very  unpopular,  and  the  strike  itself  had 
begun  to  weaken  when  the  brewers  and  stationary  engi- 
neers, who  for  some  obscure  reason  had  been  ordered  to 
strike  in  sympathy,  refused  to  come  out.  The  situation 
was  left  unchanged,  as  far  as  the  coal-handlers  employed 
by  the  other  companies,  the  longshoremen,  and  the  many 
thousands  of  men  who  went  out  on  sympathetic  strike 
were  concerned.  The  men  began  to  return  to  work  by 
the  thousands  and  the  entire  strike  collapsed. 

The  determined  attack  and  stubborn  resistance  of  the 
employers'  associations  after  the  strikes  of  May  1886, 
coupled  with  the  obvious  incompetence  displayed  by  the 
leaders,  caused  the  turn  of  the  tide  in  the  labor  movement 
in  the  first  half  of  1887.  This,  however,  manifested  itself 
during  1887  exclusively  in  the  large  cities,  where  the 
movement  had  borne  in  the  purest  form  the  character  of 
an  uprising  by  the  class  of  the  unskilled  and  where  the 
hardest  battles  were  fought  with  the  employers.  District 
Assembly  49,  New  York,  fell  from  its  membership  of 
60,809  in  June  1886,  to  32,826  in  July  1887.  During 
the  same  interval,  District  Assembly  1,  Philadelphia,  de- 
creased from  51,557  to  11,294),  and  District  Assembly  30, 
Boston,  from  81,197  to  31,644.  In  Chicago  there  were 
about  40,000  Knights  immediately  before  the  packers* 
strike  in  October  1886,  and  only  about  17,000  on  July  1, 
1887.  The  falling  off  of  the  largest  district  assemblies  in 
10  large  cities  practically  equalled  the  total  loss  of  the 
Order,  which  amounied  approximately  to  191,000.  At 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887      101 

the  same  time  the  membership  of  the  smallest  district 
assemblies,  which  were  for  the  most  part  located  in  small 
cities,  remained  stationary  and,  outside  of  the  national 
and  district  trade  assemblies  which  were  formed  by  sepa- 
ration from  mixed  district  assemblies,  thirty-seven  new 
district  assemblies  were  formed,  also  mostly  in  rural  locali- 
ties. In  addition,  state  assemblies  were  added  in  Alabama, 
Florida,  Georgia,  Indiana,  Kansas,  Mississippi,  Nebraska, 
North  Carolina,  Ohio,  West  Virginia,  and  Wisconsin,  with 
an  average  membership  of  about  2000  each. 

It  thus  becomes  clear  that  by  the  middle  of  1887,  the 
Great  Upheaval  of  the  unskilled  and  semi-skilled  portions 
of  the  working  class  had  already  subsided  beneath  the 
strength  of  the  combined  employers  and  the  unwieldiness 
of  their  own  organization.  After  1887  the  Knights  of 
Labor  lost  its  hold  upon  the  large  cities  with  their  wage- 
conscious  and  largely  foreign  population,  and  became  an 
organization  predominantly  of  country  people,  of  me- 
chanics, small  merchants,  and  farmers, — a  class  of  people 
which  was  more  or  less  purely  American  and  decidedly 
middle  class  in  its  philosophy. 

The  industrial  upheaval  in  the  middle  of  the  eighties 
had,  like  the  great  strike  of  1877,  a  political  reverbera- 
tion. Although  the  latter  was  heard  throughout  the  entire 
country,  it  centered  in  the  city  of  New  York,  where  the 
situation  was  complicated  by  court  interference  in  the 
labor  struggle. 

A  local  assembly  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  had  declared 
a  boycott  against  one  George  Theiss,  a  proprietor  of  a 
music  and  beer  garden.  The  latter  at  first  submitted  and 
paid  a  fine  of  $1000  to  the  labor  organization,  but  later 
brought  action  in  court  against  the  officers  charging  them 
with  intimidation  and  extortion. 


The  judge,  George  C.  Barrett,  in  his  charge  to  the 
jury,  conceded  that  striking,  picketing,  and  boycotting 
as  such  were  not  prohibited  by  law,  if  not  accompanied  by 
force,  threats,  or  intimidation.  But  in  the  case  under 
consideration  the  action  of  the  pickets  in  advising  passers- 
by  not  to  patronize  the  establishment  and  in  distributing 
boycott  circulars  constituted  intimidation.  Also,  since 
the  $1000  fine  was  obtained  by  fear  induced  by  a  threat 
to  continue  the  unlawful  injury  to  Theiss  inflicted  by  the 
"boycott,"  the  case  was  one  of  extortion  covered  by  the 
penal  code.  It  made  no  difference  whether  the  money  was 
appropriated  by  the  defendants  for  personal  use  or 
whether  it  was  turned  over  to  their  organization.  The 
jury,  which  reflected  the  current  public  opinion  against 
boycotts,  found  all  of  the  five  defendants  guilty  of  extor- 
tion, and  Judge  Barrett  sentenced  them  to  prison  for 
terms  ranging  from  one  year  and  six  months  to  three 
years  and  eight  months. 

The  Theiss  case,  coming  as  it  did  at  a  time  of  general 
restlessness  of  labor  and  closely  after  the  defeat  of  the 
eight-hour  movement,  greatly  hastened  the  growth  of  the 
sentiment  for  an  independent  labor  party.  The  New  York 
Central  Labor  Union,  the  most  famous  and  most  influen- 
tial organization  of  its  kind  in  the  country  at  the  time, 
with  a  membership  estimated  at  between  40,000  and 
50,000,  placed  itself  at  the  head  of  the  movement  in  which 
both  socialists  and  non-socialists  joined.  Henry  George, 
the  originator  of  the  single  tax  movement,  was  nominated 
by  the  labor  party  for  Mayor  of  New  York  and  was  al- 
lowed to  draw  up  his  own  platform,  which  he  made  of 
course  a  simon-pure  single  tax  platform.  The  labor  de- 
mands were  compressed  into  one  plank.  They  were  as 
follows:  The  reform  of  court  procedure  so  that  "the 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887      103 

practice  of  drawing  grand  jurors  from  one  class  should 
cease,  and  the  requirements  of  a  property  qualification 
for  trial  jurors  should  be  abolished" ;  the  stopping  of  the 
"officious  intermeddling  of  the  police  with  peaceful  as- 
semblages"; the  enforcement  of  the  laws  for  safety  and 
the  sanitary  inspection  of  buildings ;  the  abolition  of  con- 
tract labor  on  public  work;  and  equal  pay  for  equal 
work  without  distinction  of  sex  on  such  work. 

The  George  campaign  was  more  in  the  nature  of  a  reli- 
gious revival  than  of  a  political  election  campaign.  It 
was  also  a  culminating  point  in  the  great  labor  upheaval. 
The  enthusiasm  of  the  laboring  people  reached  its  highest 
pitch.  They  felt  that,  baffled  and  defeated  as  they  were 
in  their  economic  struggle,  they  were  now  nearing  victory 
in  the  struggle  for  the  control  of  government.  Mass 
meetings  were  numerous  and  large.  Most  of  them  were 
held  in  the  open  air,  usually  on  the  street  corners.  From 
the  system  by  which  one  speaker  followed  another,  speak- 
ing at  several  meeting  places  in  a  night,  the  labor  cam- 
paign got  its  nickname  of  the  "tailboard  campaign." 
The  common  people,  women  and  men,  gathered  in  hun- 
dreds and  often  thousands  around  trucks  from  which  the 
shifting  speakers  addressed  the  crowd.  The  speakers 
were  volunteers,  including  representatives  of  the  liberal 
professions,  lawyers,  physicians,  teachers,  ministers,  and 
labor  leaders.  At  such  mass  meetings  George  did  most 
of  his  campaigning,  making  several  speeches  a  night,  once 
as  many  as  eleven.  The  single  tax  and  the  prevailing 
political  corruption  were  favorite  topics.  Against  George 
and  his  adherents  were  pitted  the  powerful  press  of  the 
city  of  New  York,  all  the  political  power  of  the  old  par- 
ties, and  all  the  influence  of  the  business  class.  George's 
opponents  were  Abram  S.  Hewitt,  an  anti-Tammany 


Democrat  whom  Tammany  had  picked  for  its  candidate 
in  this  emergency,  and  Theodore  Roosevelt,  then  as  yet 
known  only  as  a  courageous  young  politician. 

The  vote  cast  was  90,000  for  Hewitt,  68,000  for 
George,  and  60,000  for  Roosevelt.  There  is  possible 
ground  for  the  belief  that  George  was  counted  out  of 
thousands  of  votes.  The  nature  of  the  George  vote  can 
be  sufficiently  gathered  from  an  analysis  of  the  pledges  to 
vote  for  him.  An  apparently  trustworthy  investigation 
was  made  by  a  representative  of  the  New  York  Sun.  He 
drew  the  conclusion  that  the  vast  majority  were  not 
simply  wage  earners,  but  also  naturalized  immigrants, 
mainly  Irish,  Germans,  and  Bohemians,  the  native  element 
being  in  the  minority.  While  the  Irish  were  divided  be- 
tween George  and  Hewitt,  the  majority  of  the  German 
element  had  gone  over  to  Henry  George.  The  outcome 
was  hailed  as  a  victory  by  George  and  his  supporters  and 
this  view  was  also  taken  by  the  general  press. 

In  spite  of  this  propitious  beginning  the  political  labor 
movement  soon  suffered  the  fate  of  all  reform  political 
movements.  The  strength  of  the  new  party  was  frittered 
away  in  doctrinaire  factional  strife  between  the  single 
taxers  and  the  socialists.  The  trade  union  element  be- 
came discouraged  and  lost  interest.  So  that  at  the  next 
State  election,  in  which  George  ran  for  Secretary  of  State, 
presumably  because  that  office  came  nearest  to  meeting 
the  requirement  for  a  single  taxer  seeking  a  practical 
scope  of  action,  the  vote  in  the  city  fell  to  37,000  and 
in  the  whole  State  amounted  only  to  72,000.  This  ended 
the  political  labor  movement  in  New  York. 

Outside  of  New  York  the  political  labor  movement  was 
not  associated  either  with  the  single  tax  or  any  other 
"ism."  As  in  New  York  it  was  a  spontaneous  expression 

REVIVAL  AND  UPHEAVAL,  1879-1887      105 

of  dissatisfaction  brought  on  by  failure  in  strikes.  The 
movement  scored  a  victory  in  Milwaukee,  where  it  elected 
a  mayor,  and  in  Chicago  where  it  polled  25,000  out  of  a 
total  of  92,000.  But,  as  in  New  York,  it  fell  to  pieces 
without  leaving  a  permanent  trace. 





We  now  come  to  the  most  significant  aspect  of  the 
Great  Upheaval:  the  life  and  death  struggle  between 
two  opposed  principles  of  labor  organization  and  between 
two  opposed  labor  programs.  The  Upheaval  offered  the 
practical  test  which  the  labor  movement  required  for  an 
intelligent  decision  between  the  rival  claims  of  Knights 
and  trade  unionists.  The  test  as  well  as  the  conflict 
turned  principally  on  "structure,"  that  is  on  the  differ- 
ence between  "craft  autonomists"  and  those  who  would 
have  labor  organized  "under  one  head,'*  or  what  we  would 
now  call  the  "one  big  union"  advocates. 

As  the  issue  of  "structure"  proved  in  the  crucial  eighties, 
and  has  remained  ever  since,  the  outstanding  factional 
issue  in  the  labor  movement,  it  might  be  well  at  this  point 
to  pass  in  brief  review  the  structural  developments  in 
labor  organization  from  the  beginning  and  try  to  corre- 
late them  with  other  important  developments. 

The  early  1  societies  of  shoemakers  and  printers  were 
purely  local  in  scope  and  the  relations  between  "locals" 
extended  only  to  feeble  attempts  to  deal  with  the  compe- 
tition of  traveling  journeymen.  Occasionally,  they  cor- 
responded on  trade  matters,  notifying  each  other  of  their 
purposes  and  the  nature  of  their  demands,  or  expressing 

'See  Chapter  1. 



fraternal  greetings ;  chiefly  for  the  purpose  of  counter- 
acting advertisements  by  employers  for  journeymen  or 
keeping  out  dishonest  members  and  so-called  "scabs." 
This  mostly  relates  to  printers.  The  shoemakers,  despite 
their  bitter  contests  with  their  employers,  did  even  less. 
The  Philadelphia  Mechanics'  Trades  Association  in  1827, 
which  we  noted  as  the  first  attempted  federation  of  trades 
in  the  United  States  if  not  in  the  world,  was  organized 
as  a  move  of  sympathy  for  the  carpenters  striking  for 
the  ten-hour  day.  During  the  period  of  the  "wild-cat" 
prosperity  the  local  federation  of  trades,  under  the  name 
of  "Trades'  Union,"  1  comes  to  occupy  the  center  of  the 
stage  in  New  York,  Philadelphia,  Boston,  and  appeared 
even  as  far  "West"  as  Pittsburgh,  Cincinnati,  and  Louis- 
ville. The  constitution  of  the  New  York  "Trades'  Union" 
provided,  among  other  things,  that  each  society  should 
pay  a  monthly  per  capita  tax  of  6*4  cents  to  be  used  as 
a  strike  fund.  Later,  when  strikes  multiplied,  the  Union 
limited  the  right  to  claim  strike  aid  and  appointed  a 
standing  "committee  on  mediation.  In  1835  it  discussed 
a  plan  for  an  employment  exchange  or  a  "call  room." 
The  constitution  of  the  Philadelphia  Union  required  that 
a  strike  be  endorsed  by  a  two-thirds  majority  before 
granting  aid. 

The  National  Trades'  Union,  the  federation  of  city 
trades'  unions,  1834-1836,  was  a  further  development  of 
the  same  idea.  Its  first  and  second  conventions  went  little 
beyond  the  theoretical.  The  latter,  however,  passed  a 
significant  resolution  urging  the  trade  societies  to  ob- 
serve a  uniform  wage  policy  throughout  the  country  and, 

1  In  the  thirties  the  term  "union"  was  reserved  for  the  city  federa- 
tions of  trades.  What  is  now  designated  as  a  trade  union  was  called 
trade  society.  In  the  sixties  the  "Union"  became  the  "trades'  as- 


should  the  employers  combine  to  resist  it,  the  unions  should 
make  "one  general  strike." 

The  last  convention  in  1836  went  far  beyond  preceding 
conventions  in  its  plans  for  solidifying  the  workingmen 
of  the  country.  First  and  foremost,  a  "national  fund" 
was  provided  for,  to  be  made  up  of  a  levy  of  two  cents  per 
month  on  each  of  the  members  of  the  trades*  unions  and 
local  societies  represented.  The  policies  of  the  National 
Trades'  Union  instead  of  merely  advisory  were  hence- 
forth to  be  binding.  But  before  the  new  policies  could  be 
tried,  as  we  know,  the  entire  trade  union  movement  was 
wiped  out  by  the  panic. 

The  city  "trades'  union"  of  the  thirties  accorded  with 
a  situation  where  the  effects  of  the  extension  of  the  market 
were  noticeable  in  the  labor  market,  and  little  as  yet  in 
the  commodity  market;  when  the  competitive  menace  to 
labor  was  the  low  paid  out-of-town  mechanic  coming  to 
the  city,  not  the  out-of-town  product  made  under  lower 
labor  costs  selling  in  the  same  market  as  the  products  of 
unionized  labor.  Under  these  conditions  the  local  trade 
society,  reenforced  by  the  city  federation  of  trades, 
sufficed.  The  "trades'  union,"  moreover,  served  also 
as  a  source  of  reserve  strength. 

Twenty  years  later  the  whole  situation  was  changed. 
The  fifties  were  a  decade  of  extensive  construction  of 
railways.  Before  1850  there  was  more  traffic  by  water 
than  by  rail.  After  1860  the  relative  importance  of  land 
and  water  transportation  was  reversed.  Furthermore, 
i  the  most  important  railway  building  during  the  ten  years 
preceding  1860  was  the  construction  of  East  and  West 
trunk  lines;  and  the  sixties  were  marked  by  the  estab- 
lishment of  through  lines  for  freight  and  the  consolidation 
of  connecting  lines.  The  through  freight  lines  greatly 


hastened  freight  traffic  and  by  the  consolidations  through 
transportation  became  doubly  efficient. 

Arteries  of  traffic  had  thus  extended  from  the  Eastern 
coast  to  the  Mississippi  Valley.  Local  markets  had 
widened  to  embrace  half  a  continent.  Competitive  men- 
aces had  become  more  serious  and  threatened  from  a  dis- 
tance. Local  unionism  no  longer  sufficed.  Consequently, 
as  we  saw,  in  the  labor  movement  of  the  sixties  the  national 
trade  union  was  supreme. 

There  were  four  distinct  sets  of  causes  which  operated 
during  the  sixties  to  bring  about  nationalization;  two 
grew  out  of  the  changes  in  transportation,  already  alluded 
to,  and  two  were  largely  independent  of  such  changes. 

The  first  and  most  far-reaching  cause,  as  illustrated  by 
the  stove  molders,  was  the  competition  of  the  products  of 
different  localities  side  by  side  in  the  same  market.  Stoves 
manufactured  in  Albany,  New  York,  were  now  displayed 
in  St.  Louis  by  the  side  of  stoves  made  in  Detroit.  No 
longer  could  the  molder  in  Albany  be  indifferent  to  the 
fate  of  his  fellow  craftsman  in  Louisville.  With  the 
molders  the  nationalization  of  the  organization  was  des- 
tined to  proceed  to  its  utmost  length.  In  order  that  union 
conditions  should  be  maintained  even  in  the  best  organized 
centers,  it  became  necessary  to  equalize  competitive  con- 
ditions in  the  various  localities.  That  led  to  a  well-knit 
national  organization  to  control  working  conditions,  trade 
rules,  and  strikes.  In  other  trades,  where  the  competitive 
area  of  the  product  was  still  restricted  to  the  locality, 
the  paramount  nationalizing  influence  was  a  more  inten- 
sive competition  for  employment  between  migratory  out- 
of-town  journeymen  and  the  locally  organized  mechanics. 
This  describes  the  situation  in  the  printing  trade,  where 
the  bulk  of  work  was  newspaper  and  not  book  and  job 


printing.  Accordingly,  the  printers  did  not  need  to 
entrust  their  national  officers  with  anything  more  than 
the  control  of  the  traveling  journeymen  and  the  result 
was  that  the  local  unions  remained  practically  inde- 

The  third  cause  of  concerted  national  action  in  a  trade 
union  was  the  organization  of  employers.  Where  the 
power  of  a  local  union  began  to  be  threatened  by  an  em- 
ployers' association,  the  next  logical  step  was  to  combine 
in  a  national  union. 

The  fourth  cause  was  the  application  of  machinery  and 
the  introduction  of  division  of  labor,  which  split  up  the 
established  trades  and  laid  industry  open  to  invasion  by 
"green  hands."  The  shoemaking  industry,  which  during 
the  sixties  had  reached  the  factory  stage,  illustrates  this 
in  a  most  striking  manner.  Few  other  industries  ex- 
perienced anything  like  a  similar  change  during  this 

Of  course,  none  of  the  causes  of  nationalization  here 
enumerated  operated  in  entire  isolation.  In  some  trades 
one  cause,  in  other  trades  other  causes,  had  the  predomi- 
nating influence.  Consequently,  in  some  trades  the  na- 
tional union  resembled  an  agglomeration  of  loosely  allied 
states,  each  one  reserving  the  right  to  engage  in  inde- 
pendent action  and  expecting  from  its  allies  no  more  than 
a  benevolent  neutrality.  In  other  trades,  on  the  con- 
trary, the  national  union  was  supreme  in  declaring  in- 
dustrial war  and  in  making  peace,  and  even  claimed  abso- 
lute right  to  formulate  the  civil  laws  of  the  trade  for 
times  of  industrial  peace. 

The  national  trade  union  was,  therefore,  a  response  to 
obvious  and  pressing  necessity.  However  slow  or  imper- 
fect may  have  been  the  adjustment  of  internal  organiza- 


tions  to  the  conditions  of  the  trade,  still  the  groove  was 
defined  and  consequently  the  amount  of  possible  flounder- 
ing largely  limited.  Not  so  with  the  next  step,  namely 
the  national  federation  of  trades.  In  the  sixties  we  saw 
the  national  trade  unions  join  with  other  local  and 
miscellaneous  labor  organizations  in  the  National  Labor 
Union  upon  a  political  platform  of  eight -hours  and  green- 
backism.  In  1873  the  same  national  unions  asserted  their 
rejection  of  "panaceas"  and  politics  by  attempting  to 
create  in  the  National  Labor  Congress  a  federation  of 
trades  of  a  strictly  economic  character.  The  panic  and 
depression  nipped  that  in  the  bud.  When  trade  unionism 
revived  in  1879  the  national  trade  unions  returned  to 
the  idea  of  a  national  federation  of  labor,  but  this  time 
they  followed  the  model  of  the  British  Trades  Union 
Congress,  the  organization  which  cares  for  the  legisla- 
tive interests  of  British  labor.  This  was  the  "Federation 
of  Organized  Trades  and  Labor  Unions  of  the  United 
States  and  Canada,"  which  was  set  up  in  1881. 

It  is  easy  to  understand  why  the  unions  of  the  early 
eighties  did  not  feel  the  need  of  a  federation  on  economic 
lines.  The  trade  unions  of  today  look  to  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor  for  the  discharge  of  important 
economic  functions,  therefore  it  is  primarily  an  economic 
organization.  These  functions  are  the  assistance  of  na- 
tional trade  unions  in  organizing  their  trades,  the  adjust- 
ment of  disputes  between  unions  claiming  the  same  "juris- 
diction," and  concerted  action  in  matters  of  especial 
importance  such  as  shorter  hours,  the  "open-shop,"  or 
boycotts.  None  of  these  functions  would  have  been  of 
material  importance  to  the  trade  unions  of  the  early 
eighties.  Existing  in  well-defined  trades,  which  were  not 
affected  by  technical  changes,  they  had  no  "jurisdic- 


tional"  disputes ;  operating  at  a  period  of  prosperity 
with  full  employment  and  rising  wages,  they  did  not 
realize  a  necessity  for  concerted  action;  the  era  of  the 
boycotts  had  not  yet  begun.  As  for  having  a  common 
agency  to  do  the  work  of  organizing,  the  trade  unions  of 
the  early  eighties  had  no  keen  desire  to  organize  any  but 
the  skilled  workmen;  and,  since  the  competition  of  work- 
men in  small  towns  had  not  yet  made  itself  felt,  each 
national  trade  union  strove  to  organize  primarily  the 
workmen  of  its  trade  in  the  larger  cities,  a  function  for 
which  its  own  means  were  adequate. 

The  new  organization  of  1881  was  a  loose  federation 
of  trade  and  labor  unions  with  a  legislative  committee  at 
the  head,  with  Samuel  Gompers  of  the  cigar  makers  as 
a  member.  The  platform  was  purely  legislative  and  de- 
manded legal  incorporation  for  trade  unions,1  compulsory 
education  for  children,  the  prohibition  of  child  labor 
under  fourteen,  uniform  apprentice  laws,  the  enforcement 
of  the  national  eight-hour  law,  prison  labor  reform,  abo- 
lition of  the  "truck"  and  "order"  system,  mechanics' 
lien,  abolition  of  conspiracy  laws  as  applied  to  labor 
organizations,  a  national  bureau  of  labor  statistics,  a 
protective  tariff  for  American  labor,  an  anti-contract 
immigrant  law,  and  recommended  "all  trade  and  labor 
organizations  to  secure  proper  representation  in  all  law- 
making  bodies  by  means  of  the  ballot,  and  to  use  all 
honorable  measures  by  which  this  result  can  be  accom- 
plished." Although  closely  related  to  the  present 
American  Federation  of  Labor  in  point  of  time  and  per- 
sonnel of  leadership,  the  Federation  of  Organized  Trades 
and  Labor  Unions  of  the  United  States  and  Canada  was 
in  reality  the  precursor  of  the  present  state  federations 
*See  below,  152-154. 


of  labor,  which  as  specialized  parts  of  the  national  feder- 
ation now  look  after  labor  legislation. 

Two  or  three  years  later  it  became  evident  that  the 
Federation  as  a  legislative  organization  proved  a  failure.1 
Manifestly  the  trade  unions  felt  no  great  interest  in  na- 
tional legislation.  The  indifference  can  be  measured  by 
the  fact  that  the  annual  income  of  the  Federation  never 
exceeded  $700  and  that,  excepting  in  1881,  none  of  its 
conventions  represented  more  than  one-fourth  of  the 
trade  union  membership  of  the  country.  Under  such  con- 
ditions the  legislative  influence  of  the  Federation  natu- 
rally was  infinitesimal.  The  legislative  committee  carried 
out  the  instructions  of  the  1883  convention  and  communi- 
cated to  the  national  committees  of  the  Republican  and 
Democratic  parties  the  request  that  they  should  define 
their  position  upon  the  enforcement  of  the  eight-hour  law 
and  other  measures.  The  letters  were  not  even  answered. 
A  subcommittee  of  the  legislative  committee  appeared 
before  the  two  political  conventions,  but  received  no 
greater  attention. 

It  was  not  until  the  majority  of  the  national  trade 
unions  came  under  the  menace  of  becoming  forcibly  ab- 
sorbed by  the  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  that  a  basis 
appeared  for  a  vigorous  federation. 

The  Knights  of  Labor  were  built  on  an  opposite  prin- 
ciple from  the  national  trade  unions.  Whereas  the  latter 
started  with  independent  crafts  and  then  with  hesitating 
hands  tried,  as  we  saw,  to  erect  some  sort  of  a  common 
superstructure  that  should  express  a  higher  solidarity 
of  labor,  the  former  was  built  from  the  beginning  upon 
a  denial  of  craft  lines  and  upon  an  absolute  unity  of  all 

aSee  below,  285-290,  for  a  discussion  why  American  labor  looks 
away  from  legislation. 


classes  of  labor  under  one  guiding  head.  The  subdi- 
vision was  territorial  instead  of  occupational  and  the 
government  centralized. 

The  constitution  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  was  drawn  in 
1878  when  the  Order  laid  aside  the  veil  of  secrecy  to  which 
it  had  clung  since  its  foundation  in  1869.  The  lowest 
unit  of  organization  was  the  local  assembly  of  ten  or  more, 
at  least  three-fourths  of  whom  had  to  be  wage  earners 
at  any  trade.  Above  the  local  assembly  was  the  "district 
assembly"  and  above  it  the  "General  Assembly."  The 
district  assembly  had  absolute  power  over  its  local  as- 
semblies and  the  General  Assembly  was  given  "full  and 
final  jurisdiction"  as  "the  highest  tribunal"  of  the  Order.1 
Between  sessions  of  the  General  Assembly  the  power  was 
vested  in  a  General  Executive  Board,  presided  over  by  a 
Grand  Master  Workman. 

The  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  in  practice  carried 
out  the  idea  which  is  now  advocated  so  fervently  by 
revolutionary  unionists,  namely  the  "One  Big  Union," 
since  it  avowedly  aimed  to  bring  into  one  organization 
"all  productive  labor.'*  This  idea  in  organization  was 
aided  by  the  weakness  of  the  trade  unions  during  the  long 
depression  of  the  seventies,  which  led  many  to  hope  for 
better  things  from  a  general  pooling  of  labor  strength. 
But  its  main  appeal  rested  on  a  view  that  machine  tech- 
nique tends  to  do  away  with  all  distinctions  of  trades  by 
reducing  all  workers  to  the  level  of  unskilled  machine 
tenders.  To  its  protagonists  therefore  the  "one  big 
union"  stood  for  an  adjustment  to  the  new  technique. 

1  The  Constitution  read  as  follows :  "It  alone  possesses  the  power 
and  authority  to  make,  amend,  or  repeal  the  fundamental  and  general 
laws  and  regulations  of  the  Order;  to  finally  decide  all  controversies 
arising  in  the  Order;  to  issue  all  charters.  ...  It  can  also  tax  the 
members  of  the  Order  for  its  maintenance." 


First  to  face  the  problem  of  adjustment  to  the  machine 
technique  of  the  factory  system  were  the  shoemakers. 
They  organized  in  1867  the  Order  of  the  Knights  of  St. 
Crispin,  mainly  for  the  purpose  of  suppressing  the  com- 
petitive menace  of  "green  hands,"  that  is  unskilled  work- 
ers put  to  work  on  shoe  machines.  At  its  height  in  1872, 
the  Crispins  numbered  about  50,000,  perhaps  the  largest 
union  in  the  whole  world  at  that  time.  The  coopers  began 
to  be  menaced  by  machinery  about  the  middle  of  the 
sixties,  and  about  the  same  time  the  machinists  and  black- 
smiths, too,  saw  their  trade  broken  up  by  the  introduction 
of  the  principle  of  standardized  parts  and  quantity  pro- 
duction in  the  making  of  machinery.  From  these  trades 
came  the  national  leaders  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  and 
the  strongest  advocates  of  the  new  principle  in  labor 
organization  and  of  the  interests  of  the  unskilled  workers 
in  general.  The  conflict  between  the  trade  unions  and 
the  Knights  of  Labor  turned  on  the  question  of  the 
unskilled  workers. 

The  conflict  was  held  in  abeyance  during  the  early 
eighties.  The  trade  unions  were  by  far  the  strongest 
organizations  in  the  field  and  scented  no  particular  danger 
when  here  or  there  the  Knights  formed  an  assembly  either 
contiguous  to  the  sphere  of  a  trade  union  or  even  at 
times  encroaching  upon  it. 

With  the  Great  Upheaval,  which  began  in  1884,  and 
the  inrushing  of  hundreds  of  thousands  of  semi-skilled 
and  unskilled  workers  into  the  Order,  a  new  situation  was 
created.  The  leaders  of  the  Knights  realized  that  mere 
numbers  were  not  sufficient  to  defeat  the  employers  and 
that  control  over  the  skilled,  and  consequently  the  more 
strategic  occupations,  was  required  before  the  unskilled 
and  semi-skilled  could  expect  tc  march  to  victory.  Hence, 


parallel  to  the  tremendous  growth  of  the  Knights  in  1886, 
there  was  a  constantly  growing  effort  to  absorb  the  exist- 
ing trade  unions  for  the  purpose  of  making  them  sub- 
servient to  the  interests  of  the  less  skilled  elements.  It 
was  mainly  that  which  produced  the  bitter  conflict  be- 
tween the  Knights  and. the  trade  unions  during  1886  and 
1887.  Neither  the  jealousy  aroused  by  the  success  of 
the  unions  nor  the  opposite  aims  of  labor  solidarity  and 
trade  separatism  gives  an  adequate  explanation  of  this 
conflict.  The  one,  of  course,  aggravated  the  situation 
by  introducing  a  feeling  of  personal  bitterness,  and  the 
other  furnished  an  appealing  argument  to  each  side.  But 
the  strugle  was  one  between  groups  within  the  working 
class,  in  which  the  small  but  more  skilled  group  fought 
for  independence  of  the  larger  but  weaker  group  of  the 
unskilled  and  semi-skilled.  The  skilled  men  stood  for  the 
right  to  use  their  advantage  of  skill  and  efficient  organi- 
zation in  order  to  wrest  the  maximum  amount  of  con- 
cessions for  themselves.  The  Knights  of  Labor  endeav- 
ored to  annex  the  skilled  men  in  order  that  the  advantage 
from  their  exceptional  fighting  strength  might  lift  up  the 
unskilled  and  semi-skilled.  From  the  point  of  view  of  a 
struggle  between  principles,  this  was  indeed  a  clash  be- 
tween the  principle  of  solidarity  of  labor  and  that  of  trade 
separatism,  but,  in  reality,  each  of  the  principles  reflected 
only  the  special  interest  of  a  certain  portion  of  the  work- 
ing class.  Just  as  the  trade  unions,  when  they  fought  for 
trade  autonomy,  really  refused  to  consider  the  unskilled 
men,  so  the  Knights  of  Labor  overlooked  the  fact  that 
their  scheme  would  retard  the  progress  of  the  skilled 

The  Knights  were  in  nearly  every  case  the  aggressors, 
and  it  is  significant  that  among  the  local  organizations  of 


the  Knights  inimical  to  trade  unions,  District  Assembly 
49,  of  New  York,  should  prove  the  most  relentless.  It 
was  this  assembly  which  conducted  the  longshoremen's 
and  coal  miners'  strike  in  New  York  in  1887  and  which, 
as  we  saw,1  did  not  hesitate  to  tie  up  the  industries  of 
the  entire  city  for  the  sake. of  securing  the  demands  of 
several  hundred  unskilled  workingmen.  Though  District 
Assembly  49,  New  York,  came  into  conflict  with  not  a 
few  of  the  trade  unions  in  that  city,  its  battle  royal  was 
fought  with  the  cigar  makers'  unions.  There  were  at  the 
time  two  factions  among  the  cigar  makers,  one  upholding 
the  International  Cigar  Makers'  Union  with  Adolph 
Strasser  and  Samuel  Gompers  as  leaders,  the  other  calling 
itself  the  Progressive  Union,  which  was  more  socialistic 
in  nature  and  composed  of  more  recent  immigrants  and 
less  skilled  workers.  District  Assembly  49  of  the  Knights 
of  Labor  took  a  hand  in  the  struggle  to  support  the 
Progressive  Union  and  by  skillful  management  brought 
the  situation  to  the  point  where  the  latter  had  to  allow 
itself  to  be  absorbed  into  the  Knights  of  Labor. 

The  events  in  the  cigar  making  trade  in  New  York 
brought  to  a  climax  the  sporadic  struggles  that  had  been 
going  on  between  the  Order  and  the  trade  unions.  The 
trade  unions  demanded  that  the  Knights  of  Labor  respect 
their  "jurisdiction"  and  proposed  a  "treaty  of  peace" 
with  such  drastic  terms  that  had  they  been  accepted  the 
trade  unions  would  have  been  left  in  the  sole  possession 
of  the  field.  The  Order  was  at  first  more  conciliatory.  It 
would  not  of  course  cease  to  take  part  in  industrial  dis- 
putes and  industrial  matters,  but  it  proposed  a  modus 
vivendi  on  a  basis  of  an  interchange  of  "working  cards" 
and  common  action  against  employers.  At  the  same  time 
'See  above,  98-100. 


it  addressed  separately  to  each  national  trade  union  a 
gentle  admonition  to  think  of  the  unskilled  workers  as  well 
as  of  themselves.  The  address  said:  "In  the  use  of  the 
wonderful  inventions,  your  organization  plays  a  most  im- 
portant part.  Naturally  it  embraces  within  its  ranks  a 
very  large  proportion  of  laborers  of  a  high  grade  of 
skill  and  intelligence.  With  this  skill  of  hand,  guided 
by  intelligent  thought,  comes  the  right  to  demand  that 
excess  of  compensation  paid  to  skilled  above  the  unskilled 
labor.  But  the  unskilled  labor  must  receive  attention, 
or  in  the  hour  of  difficulty  the  employer  will  not  hesitate 
to  use  it  to  depress  the  compensation  you  now  receive. 
That  skilled  or  unskilled  labor  may  no  longer  be  found 
unorganized,  we  ask  of  you  to  annex  your  grand  and 
powerful  corps  to  the  main  army  that  we  may  fight  the 
battle  under  one  flag." 

But  the  trade  unions,  who  had  formerly  declared  that 
their  purpose  was  "to  protect  the  skilled  trades  of 
America  from  being  reduced  to  beggary,"  evinced  no  de- 
sire to  be  pressed  into  the  service  of  lifting  up  the  un- 
skilled and  voted  down  with  practical  unanimity  the  pro- 
posal. Thereupon  the  Order  declared  open  war  by  com- 
manding all  its  members  who  were  also  members  of  the 
cigar  makers'  union  to  withdraw  from  the  latter  on  the 
penalty  of  expulsion. 

Later  events  proved  that  the  assumption  of  the  aggres- 
sive was  the  beginning  of  the  undoing  of  the  Order.  It 
was,  moreover,  an  event  of  first  significance  in  the  labor 
movement  since  it  forced  the  trade  unions  to  draw  closer 
together  and  led  to  the  founding  in  the  same  year,  1886, 
of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor. 

Another  highly  important  effect  of  this  conflict  was 
the  ascendency  in  the  trade  union  movement  of  Samuel 


Gompers  as  the  foremost  leader.  Gompers  had  first 
achieved  prominence  in  1881  at  the  time  of  the  organiza- 
tion of  the  Federation  of  Organized  Trades  and  Labor 
Unions.  But  not  until  the  situation  created  by  the  con- 
flict with  the  Knights  of  Labor  did  he  get  his  first  real 
opportunity,  both  »to  demonstrate  his  inborn  capacity 
for  leadership  and  to  train  and  develop  that  capacity  by 
overcoming  what  was  perhaps  the  most  serious  problem 
that  ever  confronted  American  organized  labor. 

The  new  Federation  avoided  its  predecesisor's  mistake 
of  emphasizing  labor  legislation  above  all.  Its  prime 
purpose  was  economic.  The  legislative  interests  of  labor 
were  for  the  most  part  given  into  the  care  of  subordinate 
state  federations  of  labor.  Consequently,  the  several 
state  federations,  not  the  American  Federation  of  Labor, 
correspond  in  America  to  the  British  Trades  Union  Con- 
gress. But  in  the  conventions  of  the  American  Federa- 
tion of  Labor  the  state  federations  are  represented  only 
nominally.  The  Federation  is  primarily  a  federation  of 
national  and  international  (including  Canada  and 
Mexico)  trade  unions. 

Each  national  and 'international  union  in  the  new  Fed- 
eration was  acknowledged  a  sovereignty  unto  itself,  with 
full  powers  of  discipline  over  its  members  and  with  the 
power  of  free  action  toward  the  employers  without  any 
interference  from  the  Federation ;  in  other  words,  its  full 
autonomy  was  confirmed.  Like  the  British  Empire,  the 
Federation  of  Labor  was  cemented  together  by  ties  which 
were  to  a  much  greater  extent  spiritual  than  they  were 
material.  Nevertheless,  the  Federation's  authority  was 
far  from  being  a  shadowy  one.  If  it  could  not  order  about 
the  officers  of  the  constituent  unions,  it  could  so  mobilize 
the  general  labor  sentiment  in  the  country  on  behalf  of 


any  of  its  constituent  bodies  that  its  good  will  would  be 
sought  even  by  the  most  powerful  ones.  The  Federation 
guaranteed  to  each  union  a  certain  jurisdiction,  gen- 
erally coextensive  with  a  craft,  and  protected  it  against 
encroachments  by  adjoining  unions  and  more  especially 
by  rival  unions.  The  guarantee  worked  absolutely  in  the 
case  of  the  latter,  for  the  Federation  knew  no  mercy 
when  a  rival  union  attempted  to  undermine  the  strength 
of  an  organized  union  of  a  craft.  The  trade  unions  have 
learned  from  experience  with  the  Knights  of  Labor  that 
their  deadliest  enemy  was,  after  all,  not  the  employers' 
association  but  the  enemy  from  within  who  introduced 
confusion  in  the  ranks.  They  have  accordingly  devel- 
oped such  a  passion  for  "regularity,"  such  an  intense  con- 
viction that  there  must  be  but  one  union  in  a  given  trade 
that,  on  occasions,  scheming  labor  officials  have  known 
how  to  checkmate  a  justifiable  insurgent  movement  by  a 
skillful  play  upon  this  curious  hypertrophy  of  the  feeling 
of  solidarity.  Not  only  will  a  rival  union  never  be  ad- 
mitted into  the  Federation,  but  no  subordinate  body, 
state  or  city,  may  dare  to  extend  any  aid  or  comfort  to  a 
rival  union. 

The  Federation  exacted  but  little  from  the  national  and 
international  unions  in  exchange  for  the  guarantee  of 
their  jurisdiction:  A  small  annual  per  capita  tax;  a 
willing  though  a  not  obligatory  support  in  the  special 
legislative  and  industrial  campaigns  it  may  undertake; 
an  adherence  to  its  decisions  on  general  labor  policy;  an 
undertaking  to  submit  to  its  decision  in  the  case  of  dis- 
putes with  other  unions,  which  however  need  not  in  every 
case  be  fulfilled;  and  lastly,  an  unqualified  acceptance  of 
the  principle  of  "regularity"  relative  to  labor  organiza- 
tion. Obviously,  judging  from  constitutional  powers 


alone,  the  Federation  was  but  a  weak  sort  of  a  govern- 
ment. Yet  the  weakness  was  not  the  forced  weakness  of 
a  government  which  was  willing  to  start  with  limited 
powers  hoping  to  increase  its  authority  as  it  learned  to 
stand  more  firmly  on  its  own  feet;  it  was  a  self-imposed 
weakness  suggested  by  the  lessons  of  labor  history. 

By  contrast  the  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,  as 
seen  already,  was  governed  by  an  all-powerful  General 
Assembly  and  General  Executive  Board.  At  a  first 
glance  a  highly  centralized  form  of  government  would 
appear  a  promise  of  assured  strength  and  a  guarantee  of 
coherence  amongst  the  several  parts  of  the  organization. 
Perhaps,  if  America's  wage  earners  were  cemented  to- 
gether by  as  strong  a  class  consciousness  as  the  laboring 
classes  of  Europe,  such  might  have  been  the  case. 

But  America's  labor  movement  lacked  the  unintended 
aid  which  the  sister  movements  in  Europe  derived  from 
a  caste  system  of  society  and  political  oppression.  Where 
the  class  lines  were  not  tightly  drawn,  the  centrifugal 
forces  in  the  labor  movement  were  bound  to  assert  them- 
selves. The  leaders  of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor, 
in  their  struggle  against  the  Knights  of  Labor,  played 
precisely  upon  this  centrifugal  tendency  and  gained  a 
victory  by  making  an  appeal  to  the  natural  desire  for 
autonomy  and  self-determination  of  any  distinctive  group. 
But  originally  perhaps  intended  as  a  mere  "strategic" 
move,  this  policy  succeeded  in  creating  a  labor  movement 
which  was,  on  fundamentals,  far  more  coherent  than  the 
Knights  of  Labor  even  in  the  heyday  of  their  glory.  The 
officers  and  leaders  of  the  Federation,  knowing  that  they 
could  not  command,  set  themselves  to  developing  a  uni- 
fied labor  will  and  purpose  by  means  of  moral  suasion 
and  propaganda.  Where  a  bare  order  would  breed  re- 


sentment  and  backbiting,  an  appeal,  which  is  reinforced 
by  a  carefully  nurtured  universal  labor  sentiment,  will 
eventually  bring  about  common  consent  and  a  willing 
acquiescence  in  the  policy  supported  by  the  majority. 
So  each  craft  was  made  a  self-determining  unit  and 
"craft  autonomy"  became  a  sacred  shibboleth  in  the  la- 
bor movement  without  interfering  with  unity  on  essen- 

The  principle  of  craft  autonomy  triumphed  chiefly  be- 
cause it  recognized  the  existence  of  a  considerable  amount 
of  group  selfishness.  The  Knights  of  Labor  held,  as  was 
seen,  that  the  strategic  or  bargaining  strength  of  the 
skilled  craftsman  should  be  used  as  a  lever  to  raise  the 
status  of  the  semi-skilled  and  unskilled  worker.  It  con- 
sequently grouped  them  promiscuously  in  "mixed  as- 
semblies" and  opposed  as  long  as  it  could  the  demand  for 
"national  trade  assemblies."  The  craftsman,  on  the  other 
hand,  wished  to  use  his  superior  bargaining  strength  for 
his  own  purposes  and  evinced  little  desire  to  dissipate  it 
in  the  service  of  his  humbler  fellow  worker.  To  give 
effect  to  that,  he  felt  obliged  to  struggle  against  becom- 
ing entangled  with  undesirable  allies  in  the  semi-skilled 
and  unskilled  workers  for  whom  the  Order  spoke.  Need- 
less to  say,  the  individual  self-interest  of  the  craft  leaders 
worked  hand  in  hand  with  the  self-interest  of  the  craft  as 
a  whole,  for  had  they  been  annexed  by  the  Order  they 
would  have  become  subject  to  orders  from  the  Gen- 
eral Master  Workman  or  the  General  Assembly  of  the 

In  addition  to  platonic  stirrings  for  "self-determina- 
tion" and  to  narrow  group  interest,  there  was  a  motive 
for  craft  autonomy  which  could  pass  muster  both  as 
strictly  social  and  realistic.  The  fact  was  that  the 


autonomous  craft  union  could  win  strikes  where  the  cen- 
tralized promiscuous  Order  merely  floundered  and  suf- 
fered defeat  after  defeat.  The  craft  union  had  the  ad- 
vantage, on  the  one  hand,  of  a  leadership  which  was  thor- 
oughly familiar  with  the  bit  of  ground  upon  which  it 
operated,  and,  on  the  other  hand,  of  handling  a  group  of 
people  of  equal  financial  endurance  and  of  identical  in- 
terest. It  has  already  been  seen  how  dreadfully  mis- 
managed were  the  great  Knights  of  Labor  strikes  of  1886 
and  1887.  The  ease  with  which  the  leaders  were  able  to 
call  out  trade  after  trade  on  a  strike  of  sympathy  proved 
more  a  liability  than  an  asset.  Often  the  choice  of  trades 
to  strike  bore  no  particular  relation  to  their  strategic 
value  in  the  given  situation;  altogether  one  gathers  the 
impression  that  these  great  strikes  were  conducted  by 
blundering  amateurs  who  possessed  more  authority  than 
was  good  for  them  or  for  the  cause.  It  is  therefore  not 
to  be  wondered  at  if  the  compact  craft  unions  led  by 
specialists  scored  successes  where  the  heterogeneous  mobs 
of  the  Knights  of  Labor  had  been  doomed  from  the  first. 
Clearly  then  the  survival  of  the  craft  union  was  a  sur- 
vival of  the  fittest ;  and  the  Federation's  attachment  to 
the  principle  of  craft  autonomy  was,  to  say  the  least,  a 
product  of  an  evolutionary  past,  whatever  one  may  hold 
with  reference  to  its  fitness  in  our  own  time. 

Whatever  reasons  moved  the  trade  unions  of  the  skilled 
to  battle  with  the  Order  for  their  separate  and  autono- 
mous existence  were  bound  sooner  or  later  to  induce  those 
craftsmen  who  were  in  the  Order  to  seek  a  similar 
autonomy.  From  the  very  beginning  the  more  skilled  and 
better  organized  trades  in  the  Knights  sought  to  sepa- 
rate from  the  mixed  "district  assemblies"  and  to  create 
within  the  framework  of  the  Order  "national  trade  as- 


semblies."  *  However,  the  national  officers,  who  looked 
upon  such  a  move  as  a  betrayal  of  the  great  principle  of 
the  solidarity  of  all  labor,  were  able  to  stem  the  tide 
excepting  in  the  case  of  the  window  glass  blowers,  who 
were  granted  their  autonomy  in  1880. 

The  obvious  superiority  of  the  trade  union  form  of 
organization  over  the  mixed  organization,  as  revealed  by 
events  in  1886  and  1887,  strengthened  the  separatist  tend- 
ency. Just  as  the  struggle  between  the  Knights  of 
Labor  and  the  trade  unions  on  the  outside  had  been  fun- 
damentally a  struggle  between  the  unskilled  and  the 
skilled  portions  of  the  wage-earning  class,  so  the  aspira- 
tion toward  the  national  trade  assembly  within  the  Order 
represented  the  effort  of  the  more  or  less  skilled  men  for 
emancipation  from  the  dominance  of  the  unskilled.  But 
the  Order  successfully  fought  off  such  attempts  until 
after  the  defeat  of  the  mixed  district  assemblies,  or  in 
other  words  of  the  unskilled  class,  in  the  struggle  with 
the  employers.  With  the  withdrawal  of  a  very  large  por- 
tion of  this  class,  as  shown  in  1887,2  the  demand  for  the 
national  trade  assembly  revived  and  there  soon  began 
a  veritable  rush  to  organize  by  trades.  The  stampede  was 
strongest  in  the  city  of  New  York  where  the  incompe- 
tence of  the  mixed  District  Assembly  49  had  become  pat- 
ent. At  the  General  Assembly  in  1887  at  Minneapolis 
all  obstacles  were  removed  from  forming  national  trade 
assemblies,  but  this  came  too  late  to  stem  the  exodus  of 
the  skilled  element  from  the  order  into  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor. 

The  victory  of  craft  autonomy  over  the  "one  big 
union"  was  decisive  and  complete. 

1The  "local  assemblies"  generally  followed  in  practice  trade  lines, 
but  the  district  assemblies  were  "mixed." 
•See  above,  100-101. 


The  strike  activities  of  the  Knights  were  confessedly 
a  deviation  from  "First  Principles."  Yet  the  First  Prin- 
ciples with  their  emphasis  on  producers'  cooperation 
were  far  from  forgotten  even  when  the  enthusiasm  for 
strikes  was  at  its  highest.  Whatever  the  actual  feelings 
of  the  membership  as  a  whole,  the  leaders  neglected  no 
opportunity  to  promote  cooperation.  T.  V.  Powderly, 
the  head  of  the  Order  since  1878,  in  his  reports  to  the 
annual  General  Assembly  or  convention,  consistently 
urged  that  practical  steps  be  taken  toward  cooperation. 
In  1881,  while  the  general  opinion  in  the  Order  was  still 
undecided,  the  leaders  did  not  scruple  to  smuggle  into 
the  constitution  a  clause  which  made  cooperation  com- 

Notwithstanding  Powderly's  exhortations,  the  Order 
was  at  first  slow  in  taking  it  up.  In  1882  a  general  co- 
operative board  was  elected  to  work  out  a  plan  of  action, 
but  it  never  reported,  and  a  new  board  was  chosen  in  its 
place  at  the  Assembly  of  1883.  In  that  year,  the  first 
practical  step  was  taken  in  the  purchase  by  the  Order  of 
a  coal  mine  at  Cannelburg,  Indiana,  with  the  idea  of  sell- 
ing the  coal  at  reduced  prices  to  the  members.  Soon 
thereafter  a  thorough  change  of  sentiment  with  regard 
to  the  whole  matter  of  cooperation  took  place,  contem- 
poraneously with  the  industrial  depression  and  unsuccess- 
ful strikes.  The  rank  and  file,  who  had  hitherto  been 
indifferent,  now  seized  upon  the  idea  with  avidity.  The 
enthusiasm  ran  so  high  in  Lynn,  Massachusetts,  that  it 
was  found  necessary  to  raise  the  shares  of  the  Knights 
of  Labor  Cooperative  Shoe  Company  to  $100  in 
order  to  prevent  a  large  influx  of  "unsuitable  members." 
In  1885  Powderly  complained  that  "many  of  our 
members  grow  impatient  and  unreasonable  because 


every  avenue  of  the  Order  does  not  lead  to  coopera- 

The  impatience  for  immediate  cooperation,  which 
seized  the  rank  and  file  in  practically  every  section  of  the 
country,  caused  an  important  modification  in  the  official 
doctrine  of  the  Order.  Originally  it  had  contemplated 
centralized  control  under  which  it  would  have  taken  years 
before  a  considerable  portion  of  the  membership  could 
realize  any  benefit.  This  was  now  dropped  and  a  decen- 
tralized plan  was  adopted.  Local  organizations  and, 
more  frequently,  groups  of  members  with  the  financial  aid 
of  their  local  organizations  now  began  to  establish  shops. 
Most  of  the  enterprises  were  managed  by  the  stockholders, 
although,  in  some  cases,  the  local  organization  of  the 
Knights  of  Labor  managed  the  plant. 

Most  of  the  cooperative  enterprises  were  conducted  on 
a  small  scale.  Incomplete  statistics  warrant  the  conclu- 
sion that  the  average  amount  invested  per  establishment 
was  about  $10,000.  From  the  data  gathered  it  seems 
that  cooperation  reached  its  highest  point  in  1886,  al- 
though it  had  not  completely  spent  itself  by  the  end  of 
1887.  The  total  number  of  ventures  probably  reached 
two  hundred.  The  largest  numbers  were  in  mining,  coop- 
erage, and  shoes.  These  industries  paid  the  poorest 
wages  and  treated  their  employes  most  harshly.  A  small 
amount  of  capital  was  required  to  organize  such  estab- 

With  the  abandonment  of  centralized  cooperation  in 
1884,  the  role  of  the  central  cooperative  board  changed 
correspondingly.  The  leading  member  of  the  board  was 
now  John  Samuel,  one  of  those  to  whom  cooperation 
meant  nothing  short  of  a  religion.  The  duty  of  the 
board  was  to  educate  the  members  of  the  Order  in  the 


principles  of  cooperation;  to  aid  by  information  and 
otherwise  prospective  and  actual  cooperators ;  in  brief, 
to  coordinate  the  cooperative  movement  within  the  Order. 
It  issued  forms  of  a  constitution  and  by-laws  which,  with 
a  few  modifications,  could  be  adopted  by  any  locality.  It 
also  published  articles  on  the  dangers  and  pitfalls  in 
cooperative  ventures,  such  as  granting  credit,  poor  man- 
agement, etc.,  as  well  as  numerous  articles  on  specific 
kinds  of  cooperation.  The  Knights  of  Labor  label  was 
granted  for  the  use  of  cooperative  goods  and  a  persistent 
agitation  was  steadily  conducted  to  induce  purchasers  to 
give  a  preference  to  cooperative  products. 

As  a  scheme  of  industrial  regeneration,  cooperation 
never  materialized.  The  few  successful  shops  sooner  or 
later  fell  into  the  hands  of  an  "inner  group,"  who  "froze 
out"  the  others  and  set  up  capitalistic  partnerships.  The 
great  majority  went  on  the  rocks  even  before  getting 
started.  The  causes  of  failure  were  many :  Hasty  action, 
inexperience,  lax  shop  discipline,  internal  dissensions, 
high  rates  of  interest  upon  the  mortgage  of  the  plant,  and 
finally  discriminations  instigated  by  competitors.  Rail- 
ways were  heavy  offenders,  by  delaying  side  tracks  and, 
on  some  pretext  or  other,  refusing  to  furnish  cars  or  re- 
fusing to  haul  them. 

The  Union  Mining  Company  of  Cannelburg,  Indiana, 
owned  and  operated  by  the  Order  as  its  sole  experiment 
of  the  centralized  kind  of  cooperation,  met  this  fate. 
After  expending  $20,000  in  equipping  the  mine,  purchas- 
ing land,  laying  tracks,  cutting  and  sawing  timber  on 
the  land  and  mining  $1000  worth  of  coal,  they  were 
compelled  to  lie  idle  for  nine  months  before  the  railway 
company  saw  fit  to  connect  their  switch  with  the  main 
track.  When  they  were  ready  to  ship  their  product,  it 


was  learned  that  their  coal  could  be  utilized  for  the  manu- 
facture of  gas  only,  and  that  contracts  for  supply  of  such 
coal  were  let  in  July,  that  is  nine  months  from  the  time 
of  connecting  the  switch  with  the  main  track.  In  addi- 
tion, the  company  was  informed  that  it  must  supply  itself 
with  a  switch  engine  to  do  the  switching  of  the  cars  from 
its  mine  to  the  main  track,  at  an  additional  cost  of  $4000. 
When  this  was  accomplished  they  had  to  enter  the  mar- 
ket in  competition  with  a  bitter  opponent  who  had  been 
fighting  them  since  the  opening  of  the  mine.  Having  ex- 
hausted their  funds  and  not  seeing  their  way  clear  to 
securing  additional  funds  for  the  purchase  of  a  loco- 
motive and  to  tide  over  the  nine  months  ere  any  contracts 
for  coal  could  be  entered  into,  they  sold  out  to  their 

But  a  cause  more  fundamental  perhaps  than  all  other 
causes  of  the  failure  of  cooperation  in  the  United  States 
is  to  be  found  in  the  difficulties  of  successful  entrepre- 
neurship.  In  the  labor  movement  in  the  United  States 
there  has  been  a  failure,  generally  speaking,  to  appreci- 
ate the  significance  of  management  and  the  importance 
which  must  be  imputed  to  it.  Glib  talk  often  commands 
an  undeserved  confidence  and  misleads  the  wage  earner. 
Thus  by  1888,  three  or  four  years  after  it  had  begun,  the 
cooperative  movement  had  passed  the  full  cycle  of  life 
and  succumbed.  The  failure,  as  said,  was  hastened  by 
external  causes  and  discrimination.  But  the  experiments 
had  been  foredoomed  anyway, — through  the  incompati- 
bility of  producers'  cooperation  with  trade  unionism. 
The  cooperators,  in  their  eagerness  to  get  a  market,  fre- 
quently undersold  the  private  employer  expecting  to  re- 
coup their  present  losses  in  future  profits.  In  conse- 
quence, the  privately  employed  wage  earners  had  to  bear 


reductions  in  their  wages.  A  labor  movement  which  en- 
deavors to  practice  producers*  cooperation  and  trade 
unionism  at  the  same  time  is  actually  driving  in  opposite 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897 

The  Great  Upheaval  of  1886  had,  as  we  saw,  suddenly 
swelled  the  membership  of  trade  unions ;  consequently, 
during  several  years  following,  notwithstanding  the  pros- 
perity in  industry,  further  growth  was  bound  to  pro- 
ceed at  a  slower  rate. 

The  statistics  of  strikes  during  the  later  eighties,  like 
the  figures  of  membership,  show  that  after  the  strenuous 
years  from  1885  to  1887  the  labor  movement  had  entered 
a  more  or  less  quiet  stage.  Most  prominent  among  the 
strikes  was  the  one  of  60,000  iron  and  steel  workers  in 
Pennsylvania,  Ohio,  and  the  West,  which  was  carried  to 
a  successful  conclusion  against  a  strong  combination  of 
employers.  The  Amalgamated  Association  of  Iron  and 
Steel  Workers  stood  at  the  zenith  of  its  power  about  this 
time  and  was  able  in  1889,  by  the  mere  threat  of  a  strike, 
to  dictate  terms  to  the  Carnegie  Steel  Company.  The 
most  noted  and  last  great  strike  of  a  railway  brother- 
hood was  the  one  of  the  locomotive  engineers  on  the 
Chicago,  Burlington  &  Quincy  Railroad  Company.  The 
strike  was  begun  jointly  on  February  27,  1888,  by  the 
brotherhoods  of  locomotive  engineers  and  locomotive  fire- 
men. The  main  demands  were  made  by  the  engineers, 
who  asked  for  the  abandonment  of  the  system  of  classi- 
fication and  for  a  new  wage  scale.  Two  months  previ- 
ously, the  Knights  of  Labor  had  declared  a  miners'  strike 
against  the  Philadelphia  &  Reading  Railroad  Company, 


STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  131 

employing  80,000  anthracite  miners,  and  the  strike  had 
been  accompanied  by  a  sympathetic  strike  of  engineers  and 
firemen  belonging  to  the  Order.  The  members  of  the 
brotherhoods  had  filled  their  places  and,  in  retaliation, 
the  former  Reading  engineers  and  firemen  now  took  the 
places  of  the  Burlington  strikers,  so  that  on  March  15 
the  company  claimed  to  have  a  full  contingent  of  em- 
ployes. The  brotherhoods  ordered  a  boycott  upon  the 
Burlington  cars,  which  was  partly  enforced,  but  they 
were  finally  compelled  to  submit.  The  strike  was  not 
officially  called  off  until  January  3,  1889.  Notwithstand- 
ing the  defeat  of  the  strikers,  the  damage  to  the  railway 
was  enormous,  and  neither  the  railways  of  the  country  nor 
the  brotherhoods  since  that  date  have  permitted  a  serious 
strike  of  their  members  to  occur. 

The  lull  in  the  trade  union  movement  was  broken  by  a 
new  concerted  eight-hour  movement  managed  by  the  Fed- 
eration, which  culminated  in  1890. 

Although  on  the  whole  the  eight-hour  movement  in 
1886  was  a  failure,  it  was  by  no  means  a  disheartening 
failure.  It  was  evident  that  the  eight-hour  day  was  a 
popular  demand,  and  that  an  organization  desirous  of 
expansion  might  well  hitch  its  wagon  to  this  star.  Ac- 
cordingly, the  convention  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  in  1888  declared  that  a  general  demand  should  be 
made  for  the  eight-hour  day  on  May  1,  1890.  The  chief 
advocates  of  the  resolution  were  the  delegates  of  the  car- 
penters, who  announced  a  readiness  to  lead  the  way  for  a 
general  eight-hour  day  in  1890. 

The  Federation  at  once  inaugurated  an  aggressive 
campaign.  For  the  first  time  in  its  history  it  employed 
special  salaried  organizers.  Pamphlets  were  issued  and 
widely  distributed.  On  every  important  holiday  mass 


meetings  were  held  in  the  larger  cities.  On  Labor  Day 
1889,  no  less  than  420  such  mass  meetings  were  held 
throughout  the  country.  Again  the  Knights  of  Labor 
came  out  against  the  plan. 

The  next  year  the  plan  of  campaign  was  modified. 
The  idea  of  a  general  strike  for  the  eight-hour  day  in 
May  1890,  was  abandoned  in  favor  of  a  strike  trade  by 
trade.  In  March  1890,  the  carpenters  were  chosen  to 
make  the  demand  on  May  1  of  the  same  year,  to  be 
followed  by  the  miners  at  a  later  date. 

The  choice  of  the  carpenters  was  indeed  fortunate. 
Beginning  with  1886,  that  union  had  a  rapid  growth  and 
was  now  the  largest  union  affiliated  with  the  Federation. 
For  several  years  it  had  been  accumulating  funds  for  the 
eight-hour  day,  and,  when  the  movement  was  inaugurated 
in  May  1890,  it  achieved  a  large  measure  of  success. 
The  union  officers  claimed  to  have  won  the  eight-hour  day 
in  137  cities  and  a  nine-hour  day  in  most  other  places. 

However,  the  selection  of  the  miners  to  follow  on  May 
1,  1891,  was  a  grave  mistake.  Less  than  one-tenth  of  the 
coal  miners  of  the  country  were  then  organized.  For 
years  the  miners'  union  had  been  losing  ground,  with  the 
constant  decline  of  coal  prices.  Some  months  before  May 
1,  1891,  the  United  Mine  Workers  had  become  involved 
in  a  disastrous  strike  in  the  Connelsville  coke  region,  and 
the  plan  for  an  eight-hour  strike  was  abandoned.  In 
this  manner  the  eight-hour  movement  inaugurated  by  the 
convention  of  the  Federation  in  1888  came  to  an  end. 
Apart  from  the  strike  of  the  carpenters  in  1890,  it  had  not 
led  to  any  general  movement  to  gain  the  eight-hour  work 
day.  Nevertheless,  hundreds  of  thousands  of  workingmen 
had  won  reduced  hours  of  labor,  especially  in  the  building 
trades.  By  1891  the  eight-hour  day  had  been  secured 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  133 

for  all  building  trades  in  Chicago,  St.  Louis,  Denver,  In- 
dianapolis, and  San  Francisco.  In  New  York  and  Brook- 
lyn the  carpenters,  stone-cutters,  painters,  and  plasterers 
worked  eight  hours,  while  the  bricklayers,  masons,  and 
plumbers  worked  nine.  In  St.  Paul  the  bricklayers  alone 
worked  nine  hours,  the  remaining  trades  eight. 

In  1892  the  labor  movement  faced  for  the  first  time  a 
really  modern  manufacturing  corporation  with  its  prac- 
tically boundless  resources  of  war,  namely  the  Carnegie 
Steel  Company,  in  the  strike  which  has  become  famous 
under  the  name  of  the  Homestead  Strike.  The  Amalga- 
mated Association  of  Iron  and  Steel  Workers,  with  a 
membership  of  24,068  in  1891,  was  probably  the  strong- 
est trade  union  in  'the  entire  history  of  the  American 
labor  movement.  Prior  to  1889  the  relations  between 
the  union  and  the  Carnegie  firm  had  been  invariably 
friendly.  In  January  1889,  H.  C.  Frick,  who,  as  owner 
of  the  largest  coke  manufacturing  plant,  had  acquired 
a  reputation  of  a  bitter  opponent  of  organized  labor, 
became  chairman  of  Carnegie  Brothers  and  Company. 
In  the  same  year,  owing  to  his  assumption  of  manage- 
ment, as  the  union  men  believed,  the  first  dispute  oc- 
curred between  them  and  the  company.  Although  the 
agreement  was  finally  renewed  for  three  years  on  terms 
dictated  by  the  Association,  the  controversy  left  a  dis- 
turbing impression  upon  the  minds  of  the  men,  since  dur- 
ing the  course  of  the  negotiations  Frick  had  demanded 
the  dissolution  of  the  union. 

Negotiations  for  the  new  scale  presented  to  the  com- 
pany began  in  February  1892.  A  few  weeks  later  the 
company  presented  a  scale  to  the  men  providing  for  a 
reduction  and  besides  demanded  that  the  date  of  the 
termination  of  the  scale  be  changed  from  July  1  to 


January  1.  A  number  of  conferences  were  held  without 
result;  and  on  May  30  the  company  submitted  an  ulti- 
matum to  the  effect  that,  if  the  scale  were  not  signed  by 
June  29,  they  would  treat  with  the  men  as  individuals. 
At  a  final  conference  which  was  held  on  June  23,  the 
company  raised  its  offer  from  $22  per  ton  to  $23  as  the 
minimum  base  of  the  scale,  and  the  union  lowered  its 
demand  from  $25,  the  rate  formerly  paid,  to  $24.  But 
no  agreement  could  be  reached  on  this  point  nor  on 
others  and  the  strike  began  June  29  upon  the  definite 
issue  of  the  preservation  of  the  union. 

Even  before  the  negotiations  were  broken  up,  Frick 
had  arranged  with  the  Pinkerton  detective  agency  for 
300  men  to  serve  as  guards.  These  men  arrived  at  a  sta- 
tion on  the  Ohio  River  below  Pittsburgh  near  midnight 
of  July  5.  Here  they  embarked  on  barges  and  were  towed 
up  the  river  to  Pittsburgh  and  taken  up  the  Monanga- 
hela  River  to  Homestead,  which  they  approached  about 
four  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  July  6.  The  workmen  had 
been  warned  of  their  coming  and,  when  the  boat  reached 
the  landing  back  of  the  steel  works,  nearly  the  whole  town 
was  there  to  meet  them  and  to  prevent  their  landing. 
Passion  ran  high.  The  men  armed  themselves  with  guns 
,and  gave  the  Pinkertons  a  pitched  battle.  When  the  day 
was  over,  at  least  half  a  dozen  men  on  both  sides  had 
been  killed  and  a  number  were  seriously  wounded.  The 
Pinkertons  were  defeated  and  driven  away  and,  although 
there  was  no  more  disorder  of  any  sort,  the  State  militia 
appeared  in  Homestead  on  July  12  and  remained  for 
several  months. 

The  strike  which  began  in  Homestead  soon  spread  to 
other  mills.  The  Carnegie  mills  at  29th  and  33d  Streets, 
Pittsburgh,  went  on  strike.  The  strike  at  Homestead 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  135 

was  finally  declared  off  on  November  20,  and  most  of  the 
men  went  back  to  their  old  positions  as  non-union  men. 
The  treasury  of  the  union  was  depleted,  winter  was 
coming,  and  it  was  finally  decided  to  consider  the  battle 

The  defeat  meant  not  only  the  loss  by  the  union  of  the 
Homestead  plant  but  the  elimination  of  unionism  in  most 
of  the  mills  in  the  Pittsburgh  region.  Where  the  great 
Carnegie  Company  led,  the  others  had  to  follow.  The 
power  of  the  union  was  henceforth  broken  and  the  labor 
movement  learned  the  lesson  that  even  its  strongest  or- 
ganization was  unable  to  withstand  an  onslaught  by  the 
modern  corporation.  The  Homestead  strike  stirred  the 
labor  movement  as  few  other  single  events.  It  had  its 
political  reverberation,  since  it  drove  home  to  the  workers 
that  an  industry  protected  by  high  tariff  will  not  neces- 
sarily be  a  haven  to  organized  labor,  notwithstanding  that 
the  union  had  actively  assisted  the  iron  and  steel  manu- 
facturers in  securing  the  high  protection  granted  by  the 
McKinley  tariff  bill  of  1890.  Many  of  the  votes  which 
would  otherwise  have  gone  to  the  Republican  candidate 
for  President  went  in  1892  to  Grover  Cleveland,  who  ran 
on  an  anti-protective  tariff  issue.  It  is  not  unlikely  that 
the  latter's  victory  was  materially  advanced  by  the  disil- 
lusionment brought  on  by  the  Homestead  defeat. 

In  the  summer  of  1893  occurred  the  financial  panic. 
The  panic  and  the  ensuing  crisis  furnished  a  conclusive 
test  of  the  strength  and  stability  of  the  American  labor 
movement.  Gompers  in  his  presidential  report  at  the 
convention  of  1899,  following  the  long  depression,  said: 
"It  is  noteworthy,  that  while  in  every  previous  industrial 
crisis  the  trade  unions  were  literally  mowed  down  and 
swept  out  of  existence,  the  unions  now  in  existence  have 


manifested,  not  only  the  power  of  resistance,  but  of 
stability  and  permanency,"  and  he  assigned  as  the  most 
prominent  cause  the  system  of  high  dues  and  benefits 
which  had  come  into  vogue  in  a  large  number  of  trade 
unions.  He  said:  "Beyond  doubt  the  superficial  motive 
of  continued  membership  in  unions  organized  upon  this 
basis  was  the  monetary  benefits  the  members  were  en- 
titled to ;  but  be  that  as  it  may,  the  results  are  the  same, 
that  is,  membership  is  maintained,  the  organization  re- 
mains intact  during  dull  periods  of  industry,  and  is  pre- 
pared to  take  advantage  of  the  first  sign  of  an  industrial 
revival."  Gompers  may  have  overstated  the  power  of 
resistance  of  the  unions,  but  their  holding  power  upon  the 
membership  cannot  be  disputed.  The  aggregate  member- 
ship of  all  unions  affiliated  with  the  Federation  remained 
near  the  mark  of  275,000  throughout  the  period  of  de- 
pression from  1893  to  1897.  At  last  the  labor  move- 
ment had  become  stabilized. 

The  year  1894  was  exceptional  for  labor  disturbances. 
The  number  of  employes  involved  reached  nearly  750,000, 
surpassing  even  the  mark  set  in  1886.  However,  in  con- 
tradistinction to  1886,  the  movement  was  defensive.  It 
also  resulted  in  greater  failure.  The  strike  of  the  coal 
miners  and  the  Pullman  strike  were  the  most  important 
ones.  The  United  Mine  Workers  began  their  strike  in 
Ohio  on  April  21.  The  membership  did  not  exceed 
20,000,  but  about  125,000  struck.  At  first  the  demand 
was  made  that  wages  should  be  restored  to  the  level  at 
which  they  were  in  May  1893.  But  within  a  month 
the  union  in  most  regions  was  struggling  to  prevent  a  fur- 
ther reduction  in  wages.  By  the  end  of  July  the  strike 
was  lost. 

The  Pullman  strike  marks   an  era  in  the  American 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  137 

labor  movement  because  it  was  the  only  attempt  ever 
made  in  America  of  a  revolutionary  strike  on  the  Conti- 
nental European  model.  The  strikers  tried  to  throw 
against  the  associated  railways  and  indeed  against  the 
entire  existing  social  order  the  full  force  of  a  revolution- 
ary labor  solidarity  embracing  the  entire  American  wage- 
earning  class  brought  to  the  point  of  exasperation  by 
unemployment,  wage  reductions,  and  misery.  That  in 
spite  of  the  remarkable  favorable  conjuncture  the  dra- 
matic appeal  failed  to  shake  the  general  labor  movement 
out  of  its  chosen  groove  is  proof  positive  of  the  comple- 
tion of  the  stabilization  process  which  had  been  going 
on  since  the  early  eighties. 

The  Pullman  strike  began  May  11,  1894,  and  grew 
out  of  a  demand  of  certain  employes  in  the  shops  of  the 
Pullman  Palace  Car  Company,  situated  at  Pullman, 
Illinois,  for  a  restoration  of  the  wages  paid  during  the 
previous  year.  In  March  1894,  the  Pullman  employes 
had  voted  to  join  the  American  Railway  Union.  The 
American  Railway  Union  was  an  organization  based  on 
industrial  lines,  organized  in  June  1893,  by  Eugene  V. 
Debs.  Debs,  as  secretary-treasurer  of  the  Brotherhood 
of  Locomotive  Firemen,  had  watched  the  failure  of 
many  a  strike  by  only  one  trade  and  resigned  this  office 
to  organize  all  railway  workers  in  one  organization.  The 
American  Railway  Union  was  the  result.  Between  June 
9  and  June  26  the  latter  held  a  convention  in  Chicago. 
The  Pullman  matter  was  publicly  discussed  before  and 
after  its  committee  reported  their  interviews  with  the 
Pullman  Company.  On  June  21,  the  delegates  under  in- 
structions from  their  local  unions,  feeling  confident  after 
a  victory  over  the  Great  Northern  in  April,  unanimously 
voted  that  the  members  should  stop  handling  Pullman 


cars  on  June  26  unless  the  Pullman  Company  would  con- 
sent to  arbitration. 

On  June  26  the  railway  strike  began.  It  was  a  purely 
sympathetic  strike  as  no  demands  were  made.  The  union 
found  itself  pitted  against  the  General  Managers'  Asso- 
ciation, representing  twenty-four  roads  centering  or  ter- 
minating in  Chicago,  which  were  bound  by  contracts  with 
the  Pullman  Company.  The  association  had  been  or- 
ganized in  1886,  its  main  business  being  to  determine  a 
common  policy  as  to  traffic  and  freight  rates,  but  inci- 
dentally it  dealt  also  with  wages.  The  strike  soon  spread 
over  an  enormous  territory.  Many  of  the  members  of 
the  brotherhoods  joined  in,  although  their  organizations 
were  opposed  to  the  strike.  The  lawless  element  in  Chi- 
cago took  advantage  of  the  opportunity  to  rob,  burn,  and 
plunder,  so  that  the  scenes  of  the  great  railway  strike 
of  18.77  were  now  repeated.  The  damages  in  losses  of 
property  and  business  to  the  country  have  been  estimated 
at  $80,000,000.  On  July  7,  E.  V.  Debs,  president,  and 
other  principal  officers  of  the  American  Railway  Union 
were  indicted,  arrested,  and  held  under  $10,000  bail.  On 
July  13  they  were  charged  with  contempt  of  the  United 
States  Court  in  disobeying  an  injunction  which  enjoined 
them,  among  other  things,  from  compelling  or  inducing 
by  threats  railway  employes  to  strike.  The  strike  had 
already  been  weakening  for  some  days.  On  July  12,  at 
the  request  of  the  American  Railway  Union,  about  twen- 
ty-five of  the  executive  officers  of  national  and  interna- 
tional labor  unions  affiliated  with  the  American  Federa- 
tion of  Labor  met  in  conference  in  Chicago  to  discuss 
the  situation.  Debs  appeared  and  urged  a  general  strike 
by  all  labor  organizations.  But  the  conference  decided 
that  "it  would  be  unwise  and  disastrous  to  the  interests 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  139 

of  labor  to  extend  the  strike  any  further  than  it  had 
already  gone,"  and  advised  the  strikers  to  return  to 
work.  On  July  13,  the  American  Railway  Union, 
through  the  Mayor  of  Chicago,  offered  the  General  Man- 
agers' Association  to  declare  the  strike  off,  provided  the 
men  should  be  restored  to  their  former  positions  without 
prejudice,  except  in  cases  where  they  had  been  convicted 
of  crime.  But  the  Association  refused  to  deal  with  the 
union.  The  strike  was  already  virtually  beaten  by  the 
combined  moral  effect  of  the  indictment  of  the  leaders 
and  of  the  arrival  in  Chicago  of  United  States  troops, 
which  President  Cleveland  sent  in  spite  of  the  protest 
of  Governor  Altgeld  of  Illinois. 

The  labor  organizations  were  taught  two  important 
lessons.  First,  that  nothing  can  be  gained  through  revo- 
lutionary striking,  for  the  government  was  sufficiently 
strong  to  cope  with  it;  and  second,  that  the  employers 
had  obtained  a  formidable  ally  in  the  courts.1 

Defeats  in  strikes,  depression  in  trade,  a  rapidly  fall- 
ing labor  market  and  court  prosecutions  were  powerful 
allies  of  those  socialistic  and  radical  leaders  inside  the 
Federation  who  aspired  to  convert  it  from  a  mere  eco- 
nomic organization  into  an  economic-political  one  and 
make  it  embark  upon  the  sea  of  independent  politics. 

The  convention  of  1893  is  memorable  in  that  it  sub- 
mitted to  the  consideration  of  affiliated  unions  a  "politi- 
cal programme."  The  preamble  to  the  "programme" 
recited  that  the  English  trade  unions  had  recently 
launched  upon  independent  politics  "as  auxiliary  to  their 
economic  action."  The  eleven  planks  of  the  program  de- 
manded: compulsory  education;  the  right  of  popular 
initiative  in  legislation;  a  legal  eight-hour  work-day; 

1See  below,  159-160. 


governmental  inspection  of  mines  and  workshops;  aboli- 
tion of  the  sweating  system ;  employers'  liability  laws ;  abo- 
lition of  the  contract  system  upon  public  work ;  municipal 
ownership  of  electric  light,  gas,  street  railway,  and  water 
systems ;  the  nationalization  of  telegraphs,  telephones, 
railroads,  and  mines;  "the  collective  ownership  by  the 
people  of  all  means  of  production  and  distribution";  and 
the  referendum  upon  all  legislation. 

Immediately  after  the  convention  of  1893  affiliated 
unions  began  to  give  their  endorsement  to  the  political 
program.  Not  until  comparatively  late  did  any  oppo- 
sition make  itself  manifest.  Then  it  took  the  form  of  a 
demand  by  such  conservative  leaders  as  Gompers,  Mc- 
Guire,  and  Strasser,  that  plank  10,  with  its  pledge  in 
favor  of  "the  collective  ownership  by  the  people  of  all 
means  of  production  and  distribution,"  be  stricken  out. 
Notwithstanding  this,  the  majority  of  national  trade 
unions  endorsed  the  program. 

During  1894  the  trade  unions  were  active  participants 
in  politics.  In  November,  1894,  the  Federationist  gave 
a  list  of  more  than  300  union  members  candidates  for 
some  elective  office.  Only  a  half  dozen  of  these,  however, 
were  elected.  It  was  mainly  to  these  local  failures  that 
Gompers  pointed  in  his  presidential  address  at  the  con- 
vention of  1894  as  an  argument  against  the  adoption 
of  the  political  program  by  the  Federation.  His  atti- 
tude clearly  foreshadowed  the  destiny  of  the  program  at 
the  convention.  The  first  attack  was  made  upon  the  pre- 
amble, on  the  ground  that  the  statement  therein  that  the 
English  trade  unions  had  declared  for  independent  po- 
litical action  was  false.  By  a  vote  of  1345  to  861  the 
convention  struck  out  the  preamble.  Upon  motion  of 
the  typographical  union,  a  substitute  was  adopted  call- 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  141 

ing  for  the  "abolition  of  the  monopoly  system  of  land 
holding  and  the  substitution  therefor  of  a  title  of  occu- 
pancy and  use  only."  Some  of  the  delegates  seem  to  have 
interpreted  this  substitute  as  a  declaration  for  the  single 
tax;  but  the  majority  of  those  who  voted  in  its  favor 
probably  acted  upon  the  principle  "anything  to  beat 
socialism."  Later  the  entire  program  was  voted  down. 
That  sealed  the  fate  of  the  move  for  an  independent  labor 

The  American  Federation  of  Labor  was  almost  drawn 
into  the  whirlpool  of  partisan  politics  during  the  Presi- 
dential campaign  of  1896.  Three  successive  conventions 
had  declared  in  favor  of  the  free  coinage  of  silver;  and 
now  the  Democratic  party  had  come  out  for  free  coinage. 
In  this  situation  very  many  prominent  trade  union  lead- 
ers declared  publicly  for  Bryan.  President  Gompers, 
however,  issued  a  warning  to  all  affiliated  unions  to  keep 
out  of  partisan  politics.  Notwithstanding  this  Secre- 
tary McGraith,  at  the  next  convention  of  the  Federation, 
charged  President  Gompers  with  acting  in  collusion  with 
the  Democratic  headquarters  throughout  the  campaign 
in  aid  of  Bryan's  candidacy.  After  a  lengthy  secret  ses- 
sion the  convention  approved  the  conduct  of  Gompers. 
Free  silver  continued  to  be  endorsed  annually  down  to 
the  convention  of  1898,  when  the  return  of  industrial 
prosperity  and  rising  prices  put  an  end  to  it  as  a  demand 
advocated  by  labor. 

The  depressed  nineties  demonstrated  conclusively  that 
a  new  era  had  arrived.  No  longer  was  the  labor  move- 
ment a  mere  plaything  of  the  alternating  waves  of  pros- 
perity and  depression.  Formerly,  as  we  saw,  it  had 
centered  on  economic  or  trade-union  action  during  pros- 
perity only  to  change  abruptly  to  "panaceas"  and  poli- 


tics  with  the  descent  of  depression.  Now  the  movement, 
notwithstanding  possible  changes  in  membership,  and 
persistent  political  leanings  in  some  portions  of  it,  as  a 
whole  for  the  first  time  became  stable  in  purpose  and  ac- 
tion. Trade  unionism  has  won  over  politics. 

This  victory  was  synchronous  with  the  first  successful 
working  out  of  a  national  trade  agreement  and  the  in- 
stitutionalization  of  trade  unionism  in  a  leading  indus- 
try, namely  stove  molding.  While  one  of  the  earliest 
stable  trade  agreements  in  a  conspicuous  trade  covering 
a  local  field  was  a  bricklayers'  agreement  in  Chicago  in 
1887,  the  era  of  trade  agreements  really  dates  from  the 
national  system  established  in  the  stove  foundry  indus- 
try in  1891.  It  is  true  also  that  the  iron  and  steel 
workers  had  worked  under  a  national  trade  agreement 
since  1866.  However,  that  trade  was  too  exceptionally 
strong  to  be  typical. 

The  stove  industry  had  early  reached  a  high  degree 
of  development  and  organization.  There  had  existed 
since  1872  the  National  Association  of  Stove  Manufac- 
turers, an  organization  dealing  with  prices  and  embracing 
in  its  membership  the  largest  stove  manufacturers  of 
the  country.  The  stove  foundrymen,  therefore,  unlike 
the  manufacturers  in  practically  all  other  industries  at 
that  time,  controlled  in  a  large  measure  their  own  market. 
Furthermore,  the  product  had  been  completely  stand- 
ardized and  reduced  to  a  piecework  basis,  and  machinery 
had  not  taken  the  place  of  the  molders'  skill.  It  con- 
sequently was  no  mere  accident  that  the  stove  industry 
was  the  first  to  develop  a  system  of  permanent  industrial 
peace.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  this  was  not  automati- 
cally established  as  soon  as  the  favorable  external  condi- 
tions were  provided.  In  reality,  only  after  years  of 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  143 

struggle,  of  strikes  and  lockouts,  and  after  the  two  sides 
had  fought  each  other  "to  a  standstill,"  was  the  system 
finally  installed. 

The  eighties  abounded  in  stove  molders*  strikes,  and 
in  1886  the  national  union  began  to  render  effective  aid. 
The  Stove  Founders*  National  Defense  Association  was 
formed  in  1886  as  an  employers'  association  of  stove 
manufacturers.  The  Defense  Association  aimed  at  a  na- 
tional labor  policy;  it  was  organized  for  "resistance 
against  any  unjust  demands  of  their  workmen,  and  such 
other  purposes  as  may  from  time  to  time  prove  or  appear 
to  be  necessary  for  the  benefit  of  the  members  thereof  as 
employers  of  labor."  Thus,  after  1886,  the  alignment 
was  made  national  on  both  sides.  The  great  battle  was 
fought  the  next  year. 

March  8,  1887,  the  employes  of  the  Bridge  and  Beach 
Manufacturing  Company  in  St.  Louis  struck  for  an  ad- 
vance in  wages  and  the  struggle  at  once  became  one  be- 
tween the  International  Union  and  the  National  Defense 
Association.  The  St.  Louis  company  sent  its  patterns 
to  foundries  in  other  districts,  but  the  union  successfully 
prevented  their  use.  This  occasioned  a  series  of  strikes 
in  the  West  and  of  lockouts  in  the  East,  affecting  alto- 
gether about  5000  molders.  It  continued  thus  until 
June,  when  the  St.  Louis  patterns  were  recalled,  the  De- 
fense Association  having  provided  the  company  with  a 
sufficient  number  of  strike-breakers.  Each  side  was  in  a 
position  to  claim  the  victory  for  itself ;  so  evenly  matched 
were  the  opposing  forces. 

During  the  next  four  years  disputes  in  Association 
plants  were  rare.  In  August  1890,  a  strike  took  place 
in  Pittsburgh  and,  for  the  first  time  in  the  history  of  the 
industry,  it  was  settled  by  a  written  trade  agreement  with 


the  local  union.  This  supported  the  idea  of  a  national 
trade  agreement  between  the  two  organizations.  Since 
the  dispute  of  1887,  negotiations  with  this  object  were 
from  time  to  time  conducted,  the  Defense  Association  in- 
variably taking  the  initiative.  Finally,  the  national  con- 
vention of  the  union  in  1890  appointed  a  committee  to 
meet  a  like  committee  of  the  Defense  Association.  The 
conference  took  place  March  25,  1891,  and  worked  out 
a  complete  plan  of  organization  for  the  stove  molding 
industry.  Every  year  two  committees  of  three  members 
each,  chosen  respectively  by  the  union  and  the  association, 
were  to  meet  in  conference  and  to  draw  up  general  laws 
for  the  year.  In  case  of  a  dispute  arising  in  a  locality, 
if  the  parties  immediately  concerned  were  unable  to  ar- 
rive at  common  terms,  the  chief  executives  of  both  or- 
ganizations, the  president  of  the  union  and  the  president 
of  the  association,  were  to  step  in  and  try  to  effect  an 
adjustment.  If,  however,  they,  too,  failed,  a  conference 
committee  composed  of  an  equal  number  of  members  from 
each  side  was  to  be  called  in  and  its  findings  were  to  be 
final.  Meanwhile  the  parties  were  enjoined  from  engag- 
ing in  hostilities  while  the  matter  at  dispute  was  being 
dealt  with  by  the  duly  appointed  authorities.  Each 
organization  obligated  itself  to  exercise  "police  author- 
ity" over  its  constituents,  enforcing  obedience  to  the 
agreement.  The  endorsement  of  the  plan  by  both  or- 
ganizations was  practically  unanimous,  and  has  con- 
tinued in  operation  without  interruption  for  thirty  years 
until  the  present  day. 

Since  the  end  of  the  nineties  the  trade  agreement  has 
become  one  of  the  most  generally  accepted  principles  and 
aspirations  of  the  American  labor  movement.  However, 
it  is  not  to  be  understood  that  by  accepting  the  principle 

STABILIZATION,  1888-1897  145 

of  the  trade  agreement  the  labor  movement  has  committed 
itself  to  unlimited  arbitration  of  industrial  disputes. 
The  basic  idea  of  the  trade  agreement  is  thajfc  of  collective 
bargaining  rather  than  arbitration.  The  two  terms  are 
not  always  distinguished,  but  the  essential  difference  is 
that  in  the  trade  agreement  proper  no  outside  party  in- 
tervenes to  settle  the  dispute  and  make  an  award.  TJie 
agreement  is  made  by  direct  negptiatipn  between  the^two 
organized  groups  and  the  sanction  which  each  holds  over 
the  head  of  the  other  is  the  strike  or  lockout.  If  no  agree- 
ment can  be  reached,  the  labor  organization  as  well  as  the 
employers'  association,  insists  on  its  right  to  refuse  arbi- 
tration, whether  it  be  "voluntary"  or  so-called  "com- 

The  clarification  of  the  conception  of  the  trade  agree- 
ment was  perhaps  the  main  achievement  of  the  nineties. 
Without  the  trade  agreement  the  labor  movement  could 
hardly  come  to  eschew  "panaceas"  and  to  reconstitute 
itself  upon  the  basis  of  opportunism.  The  coming  in  of 
the  trade  agreement,  whether  national,  sectional,  or  local, 
was  also  the  chief  factor  in  stabilizing  the  movement 
against  industrial  depressions. 


While  it  was  in  the  nineties  that  trade  unionists  first 
tasted  the  sweets  of  institutionalization  in  industry 
through  "recognition"  by  employers,  it  was  also  during 
the  later  eighties  and  during  the  nineties  that  they  ex- 
perienced a  revival  of  suspicion  and  hostility  on  the  part 
of  the  courts  and  a  renewal  of  legal  restraints  upon  their 
activities,  which  were  all  the  more  discouraging  since  for 
a  generation  or  more  they  had  practically  enjoyed  non- 
interference from  that  quarter.  It  was  at  this  period 
that  the  main  legal  weapons  against  trade  unionism  were 
forged  and  brought  to  a  fine  point  in  practical  applica- 
tion. The'history  of  the  courts'  attitude  to  trade  union- 
ism may  therefore  best  be  treated  from  the  standpoint  of 
the  nineties. 

•The  subject  of  court  interference  was  not  altogether 
new  in  the  eighties.  We  took  occasion  to  point  out  the 
effect  of  court  interference  in  labor  disputes  in  the  first 
and  second  decades  of  the  nineteenth  century  and  again 
in  the  thirties.  Mention  was  made  also  of  the  court's 
decision  in  the  Theiss  boycott  case  in  New  York  in  1886, 
which  proved  a  prime  moving  factor  in  launching  the 
famous  Henry  George  campaign  for  Mayor.  And  we 
gave  due  note  to  the  role  of  court  injunctions  in  the  Debs 
strike  of  1894  and  in  other  strikes.  Our  present  interest 
is,  however,  more  in  the  court  doctrines  than  in  their 
effects :  more  concerned  with  the  development  of  the  legal 



thought  underlying  the  policies  of  the  courts  than  with 
the  reactions  of  the  labor  movement  to  the  policies  them- 

The  earliest  case  on  record,  namely  the  Philadelphia 
shoemakers*  strike  case  in  1806,1  charged  two  offences; 
one  was  a  combination  to  raise  wages,  the  other  a  com- 
bination to  injure  others;  both  offences  were  declared  by 
the  judge  to  be  forbidden  by  the  common  law.  To  the 
public  at  large  the  prosecution  seemed  to  rest  solely  upon 
the  charge  that  the  journeymen  combined  to  raise  wages. 
The  defense  took  advantage  of  this  and  tried  to  make 
use  of  it  for  its  own  purposes.  The  condemnation  of  the 
journeymen  on  this  ground  gave  rise  to  a  vehement  pro- 
test on  the  part  of  the  journeymen  themselves  and  their 
friends.  It  was  pointed  out  that  the  journeymen  were 
convicted  for  acts  which  are  considered  lawful  when  done 
by  masters  or  merchants.  Therefore  when  the  next  con- 
spiracy case  in  New  York  in  1809  was  decided,  the  court's 
charge  to  the  jury  was  very  different.  Nothing  was  said 
about  the  illegality  of  the  combinations  to  raise  wages; 
on  the  contrary,  the  jury  was  instructed  that  this  was  not 
the  question  at  issue.  The  issue  was  stated  to  be  whether 
the  defendants  had  combined  to  secure  an  increase  in  their 
wages  by  unlawful  means.  To  the  question  what  means 
were  unlawful,  in  this  case  the  answer  was  given  in  gen- 
eral terms,  namely  that  "coercive  and  arbitrary"  means 
are  unlawful.  The  fines  imposed  upon  the  defendants  were 
only  nominal. 

A  third  notable  case  of  the  group,  namely  the  Pitts- 
burgh case  in  1815,  grew  out  of  a  strike  for  higher  wages, 
as  did  the  preceding  cases.  The  charges  were  the  same 
as  in  those  and  the  judge  took  the  identical  view  that  was 
1  See  above,  6. 


taken  by  the  court  in  the  New  York  case.  However,  he 
explained  more  fully  the  meaning  of  "coercive  and  ar- 
bitrary" action.  "Where  diverse  persons,"  he  said,  "con- 
federate together  by  direct  means  to  impoverish  or 
prejudice  a  third  person,  or  to  do  acts  prejudicial  to 
the  community,"  they  are  engaged  in  an  unlawful  con- 
spiracy. Concretely,  it  is  unlawful  to  "conspire  to  com- 
pel an  employer  to  hire  a  certain  description  of  persons," 
or  to  "conspire  to  prevent  a  man  from  freely  exercising 
his  trade  in  a  particular  place,"  or  to  "conspire  to  com- 
pel men  to  become  members  of  a  particular  society,  or  to 
contribute  toward  it,"  or  when  persons  "conspire  to  com- 
pel men  to  work  at  certain  prices."  Thus  it  was  the 
effort  of  the  shoemakers*  society  to  secure  a  closed  shop 
which  fell  chiefly  under  the  condemnation  of  the  court. 

The  counsel  for  the  defense  argued  in  this  case  that 
whatever  is  lawful  for  one  individual  is  lawful  also  for 
a  combination  of  individuals.  The  court,  however,  re- 
jected the  arguments  on  the  ground  that  there  was  a  basic 
difference  between  an  individual  doing  a  thing  and  a  com- 
bination of  individuals  doing  the  same  thing.  The  doc- 
trine of  conspiracy  was  thus  given  a  clear  and  unequivo- 
cal definition. 

Another  noteworthy  feature  of  the  Pittsburgh  case 
was  the  emphasis  given  to  the  idea  that  the  defendants' 
conduct  was  harmful  to  the  public.  The  judge  con- 
demned the  defendants  because  they  tended  "to  create  a 
monopoly  or  to  restrain  the  entire  freedom  of  the  trade." 
What  a  municipality  is  not  allowed  to  do,  he  argued,  a 
private  association  of  individuals  must  not  be  allowed 
to  do. 

Of  the  group  of  cases  which  grew  out  of  the  revival 
of  trade  union  activity  in  the  twenties,  the  first,  a  case 


against  Philadelphia  master  shoemakers,  was  decided  in 
1821,  and  the  judge  held  that  it  was  lawful  for  the  mas- 
ters, who  had  recently  been  forced  by  employes  to  a  wage 
increase,  to  combine  in  order  to  restore  wages  to  their 
"natural  level."  But  he  also  held  that  had  the  employers 
combined  to  depress  wages  of  journeymen  below  the  level 
fixed  by  free  competition,  it  would  have  been  criminal. 

Another  Pennsylvania  case  resulted  from  a  strike  by 
Philadelphia  tailors  in  1827  to  secure  the  reinstatement 
of  six  discharged  members.  As  in  previous  cases  the 
court  rejected  the  plea  that  a  combination  to  raise  wages 
was  illegal,  and  directed  the  attention  of  the  jury  to  the 
question  of  intimidation  and  coercion,  especially  as  it 
affected  third  parties.  The  defendants  were  found  guilty. 

In  a  third,  a  New  York  hatters'  case  of  1823,  the 
charge  of  combining  to  raise  wages  was  entirely  absent 
from  the  indictment.  The  issue  turned  squarely  on  the 
question  of  conspiring  to  injure  others  by  coercion  and 
intimidation.  The  hatters  were  adjudged  guilty  of  com- 
bining to  deprive  a  non-union  workman  of  his  livelihood. 

The  revival  of  trade  unionism  in  the  middle  of  the 
thirties  brought  in,  as  we  saw,  another  crop  of  court 

In  1829  New  York  State  had  made  "conspiracy  to  com- 
mit any  act  injurious  to  public  morals  or  to  trade  or 
commerce"  a  statutory  offence,  thus  reenforcing  the 
existing  common  law.  In  1835  the  shoemakers  of  Geneva 
struck  to  enforce  the  closed  shop  against  a  workman 
who  persisted  in  working  below  the  union  rate.  The  in- 
dictment went  no  further  than  charging  this  offence. 
The  journeymen  were  convicted  in  a  lower  court  and 
appealed  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State.  Chief  Jus- 
tice Savage,  in  his  decision  condemning  the  journeymen, 


broadened  the  charge  to  include  a  conspiracy  to  raise 
wages  and  condemned  both  as  "injurious  to  trade  or 
commerce'*  and  thus  expressly  covered  by  statute. 

The  far-reaching  effects  of  this  decision  came  clearly 
to  light  in  a  tailor's  case  the  next  year.  The  journey- 
men were  charged  with  practising  intimidation  and 
violence,  while  picketing  their  employers'*  shops  during  a 
prolonged  strike  against  a  reduction  in  wages.  Judge 
Edwards,  the  trial  judge,  in  his  charge  to  the  jury, 
stigmatized  the  tailors'  society  as  an  illegal  combination, 
largely  basing  himself  upon  Judge  Savage's  decision. 
The  jury  handed  in  a  verdict  of  guilty,  but  recommended 
mercy.  The  judge  fined  the  president  of  the  society  $150, 
one  journeyman  $100,  and  the  others  $50  each.  The  fines 
were  immediately  paid  with  the  aid  of  a  collection  taken 
up  in  court. 

The  decisions  produced  a  violent  reaction  among  the 
workingmen.  They  held  a  mass-meeting  in  City  Hall 
Park,  with  an  estimated  attendance  of  27,000,  burned 
Judge  Savage  and  Judge  Edwards  in  effigy,  and  resolved 
to  call  a  state  convention  to  form  a  workingmen's  party. 

So  loud,  indeed,  was  the  cry  that  justice  had  been 
thwarted  that  juries  were  doubtless  influenced  by  it.  Two 
cases  came  up  soon  after  the  tailors'  case,  the  Hudson, 
New  York,  shoemakers'  in»June  and  the  Philadelphia  plas- 
terers' in  July  1836.  In  both  the  juries  found  a  verdict 
of  not  guilty.  Of  all  journeymen  indicted  during  this 
period  the. Hudson  shoemakers  had  been  the  most  auda- 
cious ones  in  enforcing  the  closed  shop.  They  not  only 
refused  to  work  for  employers  who  hired  non-society  men, 
but  fined  them  as  well ;  yet  they  were  acquitted. 

Finally  six  years  later,  in  1842,  long  after  the  offend- 
ing trade  societies  had  gone  out  of  existence  under  the 


stress  of  unemployment  and  depression,  came  the  famous 
decision  in  the  Massachusetts  case  of  Commonwealth  v. 

This  was  a  shoemakers*  case  and  arose  out  of  a  strike. 
The  decision  in  the  lower  court  was  adverse  to  the  de- 
fendants. However,  it  was  reversed  by  the  Supreme 
Judicial  Court  of  Massachusetts.  The  decision,  written 
by  Chief  Justice  Shaw,  is  notable  in  that  it  holds  trade 
unions  to  be  legal  organizations.  In  the  earlier  cases  it 
was  never  in  so  many  words  held  that  trade  unions  were 
unlawful,  but  in  all  of  them  there  were  suggestions  to  this 
effect.  Now  it  was  recognized  that  trade  unions  are 
per  se  lawful  organizations  and,  though  men  may  band 
themselves  together  to  effect  a  criminal  object  under  the 
disguise  of  a  trade  union,  such  a  purpose  is  not  to  be 
assumed  without  positive  evidence.  On  the  contrary,  the 
court  said  that  "when  an  association  is  formed  for  pur- 
poses actually  innocent,  and  afterwards  its  powers  are 
abused  by  those  who  have  the  control  and  management 
of  it  to  purposes  of  oppression  and  injustice,  it  will  be 
criminal  in  those  who  misuse  it,  or  give  consent  thereto, 
but  not  in  other  members  of  the  association."  This  doc- 
trine that  workingmen  may  lawfully  organize  trade 
unions  has  since  Commonwealth  v.  Hunt  been  adopted 
in  nearly  every  case. 

The  other  doctrine  which  Justice  Shaw  advanced  in  this 
case  has  been  less  generally  accepted.  It  was  that  the 
members  of  a  union  may  procure  the  discharge  of  non- 
members  through  strikes  for  this  purpose  against  their 
employers.  This  is  the  essence  of  the  question  of  the 
closed  shop;  and  Commonwealth  v.  Hunt  goes  the  full 
length  of  regarding  strikes  for  the  closed  shop  as  legal. 
Justice  Shaw  said  that  there  is  nothing  unlawful  about 


such  strikes,  if  they  are  conducted  in  a  peaceable  manner. 
This  was  much  in  advance  of  the  position  which  is  taken 
by  many  courts  upon  this  question  even  at  the  present 

After  Commonwealth  v.  Hunt  came  a  forty  years'  lull 
in  the  courts'  application  of  the  doctrine  of  conspiracy 
to  trade  unions.  In  fact  so  secure  did  trade  unionists 
feel  from  court  attacks  that  in  the  seventies  and  early 
eighties  their  leaders  advocated  the  legal  incorporation 
of  trade  unions.  The  desire  expressed  for  incorporation 
is  of  extreme  interest  compared  with  the  opposite  attitude 
of  the  present  day.  The  motive  behind  it  then  was  more 
than  the  usual  one  of  securing  protection  for  trade  union 
funds  against  embezzlement  by  officers.  A  full  enumera- 
tion of  other  motives  can  be  obtained  from  the  testimony 
of  the  labor  leaders  before  the  Senate  Committee  on  Edu- 
cation and  Labor  in  1883.  McGuire,  the  national  secre- 
tary of  the  Brotherhood  of  Carpenters  and  Joiners, 
argued  before  the  committee  for  a  national  incorporation 
law  mainly  for  the  reason  that  such  a  law  passed  by 
Congress  would  remove  trade  unions  from  the  operation 
of  the  conspiracy  laws  that  still  existed  though  in  a 
dormant  state  on  the  statute  books  of  a  number  of  Slates, 
notably  New  York  and  Pennsylvania.  He  pleaded  that 
"if  it  (Congress)  had  not  the  power,  it  shall  assume  the 
power;  and,  if  necessary,  amend  the  constitution  to  do 
it."  Adolph  Strasser  of  the  cigar  makers  raised  the 
point  of  protection  for  union  funds  and  gave  as  a  second 
reason  that  it  "will  give  our  organization  more  stability, 
and  in  that  manner  we  shall  be  able  to  avoid  strikes  by 
perhaps  settling  with  our  employers,  when  otherwise  we 
should  be  unable  to  do  so,  because  when  our  employers 
know  that  we  are  to  be  legally  recognized  that  will  exer- 


cise  such  moral  force  upon  them  that  they  cannot  avoid 
recognizing  us  themselves."  W.  H.  Foster,  the  secretary 
of  the  Legislative  Committee  of  the  Federation  of  Or- 
ganized Trades  and  Labor  Unions,  stated  that  in  Ohio 
the  law  provided  for  incorporation  at  a  slight  cost,  but 
he  wanted  a  national  law  to  "legalize  arbitration,"  by 
which  he  meant  that  "when  a  question  of  dispute  arose 
between  the  employers  and  the  employed,  instead  of  hav- 
ing it  as  now,  when  the  one  often  refuses  to  even  acknowl- 
edge or  discuss  the  question  with  the  other,  if  they  were 
required  to  submit  the  question  to  arbitration,  or  to  meet 
on  the  same  level  before  an  impartial  tribunal,  there  is 
no  doubt  but  what  the  result  would  be  more  in  our  favor 
than  it  is  now,  when  very  often  public  opinion  cannot  hear 
our  cause."  He,  however,  did  not  desire  to  have  com- 
pulsory arbitration,  but  merely  compulsory  dealing  with 
the  union,  or  compulsory  investigation  by  an  impartial 
body,  both  parties  to  remain  free  to  accept  the  award, 
provided,  however,  "that  once  they  do  agree  the  agree- 
ment shall  remain  in  force  for  a  fixed  period."  Like 
Foster,  John  Jarrett,  the  President  of  the  Amalgamated 
Association  of  Iron  and  Steel  Workers,  argued  for  an 
incorporation  law  before  the  committee  solely  for  its 
effect  upon  conciliation  and  arbitration.  He,  too,  was 
opposed  to  compulsory  arbitration,  but  he  showed  that 
he  had  thought  out  the  point  less  clearly  than  Foster. 

The  young  and  struggling  trade  unions  of  the  early 
eighties  saw  only  the  good  side  of  incorporation  without 
its  pitfalls;  their  subsequent  experience  with  courts  con- 
verted them  from  exponents  into  ardent  opponents  of  in- 
corporation and  of  what  Foster  termed  "legalized  ar- 

During  the   eighties   there   was   much   legislation   ap- 


plicable  to  labor  disputes.  The  first  laws  against  boy- 
cotting and  blacklisting  and  the  first  laws  which  pro- 
hibited discrimination  against  members  who  belonged  to 
a  union  were  passed  during  this  decade.  At  this  time 
also  were  passed  the  first  laws  to  promote  voluntary  ar- 
bitration and  most  of  the  laws  which  allowed  unions  to 
incorporate.  Only  in  New  York  and  Maryland  were  the 
conspiracy  laws  repealed.  Four  States  enacted  such 
laws  and  many  States  passed  laws  against  intimidation. 
Statutes,  however,  played  at  that  time,  as  they  do  now, 
but  a  secondary  role.  The  only  statute  which  proved  of 
much  importance  was  the  Sherman  Anti-Trust  Act. 
When  Congress  passed  this  act  in  1890,  few  people 
thought  it  had  application  to  labor  unions.  In  1893- 
1894,  as  we  shall  see,  however,  this  act  was  successfully 
invoked  in  several  labor  controversies,  notably  in  the 
Debs  case. 

The  bitterness  of  the  industrial  struggle  during  the 
eighties  made  it  inevitable  that  the  labor  movement  should 
acquire  an  extensive  police  and  court  record.  It  was 
during  that  decade  that  charges  like  "inciting  to  riot," 
"obstructing  the  streets,"  "intimidation,"  and  "trespass" 
were  first  extensively  used  in  connection  with  labor  dis- 
putes. Convictions  were  frequent  and  penalties  often 
severe.  What  attitude  the  courts  at  that  time  took 
toward  labor  violence  was  shown  most  strikingly,  even  if 
in  too  extreme  a  form  to  be  entirely  typical,  in  the  case  of 
the  Chicago  anarchists.1 

But  the  significance  of  the  eighties  in  the  development 
of  relations  of  the  courts  to  organized  labor  came  not 
from  these  cases  which  were,  after  all,  nothing  but  ordi- 
nary police  cases  magnified  to  an  unusual  degree  by  the 
1See  above,  91-93. 


intensity  of  the  industrial  struggle  and  by  the  excited 
state  of  public  opinion,  but  in  the  new  lease  of  life  to  the 
doctrine  of  conspiracy  as  affecting  labor  disputes.  Dur- 
ing the  eighties  and  nineties  there  seemed  to  have  been 
more  conspiracy  cases  than  during  all  the  rest  of  the  cen- 
tury. It  was  especially  in  1886  and  1887  that  organized 
labor  found  court  interference  a  factor.  At  this  time,  as 
we  saw,  there  was  also  passed  voluminous  state  legislation 
strengthening  the  application  of  the  common  law  doctrine 
of  conspiracy  to  labor  disputes.  The  conviction  of 
the  New  York  boy  cotters  in  1886  and  many  similar 
convictions,  though  less  widely  known,  of  partici- 
pants in  strikes  and  boycotts  were  obtained  upon 
this  ground. 

Where  the  eighties  witnessed  a  revolution  was  in  a 
totally  new  use  made  of  the  doctrine  of  conspiracy  by  the 
courts  when  they  began  to  issue  injunctions  in  labor  cases. 
Injunctions  were  an  old  remedy,  but  not  until  the  eighties 
did  they  figure  in  the  struggles  between  labor  and  capital. 
In  England  an  injunction  was  issued  in  a  labor  dispute 
as  early  as  1868 ;  x  but  this  case  was  not  noticed  in  the 
United  States  and  had  nothing  whatever  to  do  with  the 
use  of  injunctions  in  this  country.  When  and  where  the 
first  labor  injunction  was  issued  in  the  United  States  is 
not  known.  An  injunction  was  applied  for  in  a  New 
York  case  as  early  as  1880  but  was  denied.2  An  injunc- 
tion was  granted  in  Iowa  in  1884,  but  not  until  the 
Southwest  railway  strike  in  1886  were  injunctions  used 
extensively.  By  1890  the  public  had  yet  heard  little  of 
injunctions  in  connection  with  labor  disputes,  but  such 
use  was  already  fortified  by  numerous  precedents. 

1  Springhead  Spinning  Co.  v.  Riley,  L.  R.  6  E.  551  (1868). 
'Johnson  Harvester  Co.  v.  Meinhardt,  60  How.  Pr.  171. 


The  first  injunctions  that  attained  wide  publicity  were 
those  issued  by  Federal  courts  during  the  strike  of  engi- 
neers against  the  Chicago,  Burlington,  &  Quincy  Rail- 
road *  in  1888  and  during  the  railway  strikes  of  the  early 
nineties.  Justification  for  these  injunctions  was  found 
in  the  provisions  of  the  Interstate  Commerce  Act  and  the 
Sherman  Anti-Trust  Act.  Often  the  State  courts  used 
these  Federal  cases  as  precedents,  in  disregard  of  the  fact 
that  there  the  issuance  of  injunctions  was  based  upon 
special  statutes.  In  other  cases  the  more  logical  course 
was  followed  of  justifying  the  issuance  of  injunctions 
upon  grounds  of  equity.  But  most  of  the  acts  which  the 
courts  enjoined  strikers  from  doing  were  already  pro- 
hibited by  the  criminal  laws.  Hence  organized  labor 
objected  that  these  injunctions  violated  the  old  principle 
that  equity  will  not  interfere  to  prevent  crime.  No  such 
difficulties  arose  when  the  issuance  of  injunctions  was 
justified  as  a  measure  for  the  protection  of  property.  In 
the  Debs  case,2  when  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States  passed  upon  the  issuance  of  injunctions  in  labor 
disputes,  it  had  recourse  to  this  theory. 

But  the  theory  of  protection  to  property  also  pre- 
sented some  difficulties.  The  problem  was  to  establish 
the  principle  of  irreparable  injury  to  the  complainant's 
property.  This  was  a  simple  matter  when  the  strikers 
were  guilty  of  trespass,  arson,  or  sabotage.  Then  they 
damaged  the  complainant's  physical  property  and,  since 
they  were  usually  men  against  whom  judgments  are 
worthless,  any  injury  they  might  do  was  irreparable. 
But  these  were  exceptional  cases.  Usually  injunctions 

1  Chicago,  Burlington,  etc.,  R.  R.  Co.  v.  Union  Pacific  R.  R.  Co., 
U.  S.  Dist.  Ct.,  D.  Neb.   (1888). 
JIn  re  Debs,  158  U.  S.  564  (1895). 


were  sought  to  prevent  not  violence,  but  strikes,  picket- 
ing, or  boycotting.  What  is  threatened  by  strikes  and 
picketing  is  not  the  employer's  physical  property,  but  the 
relations  he  has  established  as  an  employer  of  labor, 
summed  up  in  his  expectancy  of  retaining  the  services  of 
old  employes  and  of  obtaining  new  ones.  Boycotting, 
obviously,  has  no  connection  with  acts  of  violence  against 
physical  property,  but  is  designed  merely  to  undermine 
the  profitable  relations  which  the  employer  had  developed 
with  his  customers.  These  expectancies  are  advantages 
enjoyed  by  established  businesses  over  new  competitors 
and  are  usually  transferable  and  have  market  value.  For 
these  reasons  they  are  now  recognized  as  property  in  the 
law  of  good-will  and  unfair  competition  for  customers, 
having  been  first  formulated  about  the  middle  of  the 
nineteenth  century. 

The  first  case  which  recognized  these  expectancies  of 
a  labor  market  was  Walker  v.  Cronin,1  decided  by  the 
Massachusetts  Supreme  Judicial  Court  in  1871.  It  held 
that  the  plaintiff  was  entitled  to  recover  damages  from 
the  defendants,  certain  union  officials,  because  they  had  in- 
duced his  employes,  who  were  free  to  quit  at  will,  to  leave 
his  employ  and  had  also  been  instrumental  in  preventing 
him  from  getting  new  employes.  But  as  yet  these  ex- 
pectancies were  not  considered  property  in  the  full  sense 
of  the  word.  A  transitional  case  is  that  of  Brace  Bros. 
v.  Evans  in  1888.2  In  that  case  an  injunction  against 
a  boycott  was  justified  on  the  ground  that  the  value  of 
the  complainant's  physical  property  was  being  destroyed 
when  the  market  was  cut  off.  Here  the  expectancies 
based  upon  relations  which  customers  and  employes  were 

'107  Mass.  555  (1871). 
•5  Pa.  Co.  Ct.  163  (1888). 


thought  of  as  giving  value  to  the  physical  property,  but 
they  were  not  yet  recognized  as  a  distinct  asset  which  in 
itself  justifies  the  issuance  of  injunctions. 

This  next  step  was  taken  in  the  Barr  1  case  in  New 
Jersey  in  1893.  Since  then  there  have  been  frequent 
statements  in  labor  injunction  cases  to  the  effect  that 
both  the  expectancies  based  upon  the  merchant-function 
and  the  expectancies  based  upon  the  employer-function 
are  property. 

But  the  recognition  of  "probable  expectancies"  as 
property  was  not  in  itself  sufficient  to  complete  the  chain 
of  reasoning  that  justifies  injunctions  in  labor  disputes. 
It  is  well  established  that  no  recovery  can  be  had  for 
losses  due  to  the  exercise  by  others  of  that  which  they 
have  a  lawful  right  to  do.  Hence  the  employers  were 
obliged  to  charge  that  the  strikes  and  boycotts  were 
undertaken  in  pursuance  of  an  unlawful  conspiracy. 
Thus  the  old  conspiracy  doctrine  was  combined  with 
the  new  theory,  and  "malicious"  interference  with  "prob- 
able expectancies"  was  held  unlawful.  Earlier  conspiracy 
had  been  thought  of  as  a  criminal  offence,  now  it  was 
primarily  a  civil  wrong.  The  emphasis  had  been  upon 
the  danger  to  the  public,  now  it  was  the  destruction  of 
the  employer's  business.  Occasionally  the  court  went  so 
far  as  to  say  that  all  interference  with  the  business  of 
employers  is  unlawful.  The  better  view  developed  was 
that  interference  is  prima  facie  unlawful  but  may  be  jus- 
tified. But  even  this  view  placed  the  burden  of  proof 
upon  the  workingmen.  It  actually  meant  that  the  court 
opened  for  itself  the  way  for  holding  the  conduct  of  the 
workingmen  to  be  lawful  only  when  it  sympathized  with 
their  demands. 

v.  Trades'  Council,  53  N.  J.  E.  101    (1894). 


During  the  eighties,  despite  the  far-reaching  develop- 
ment of  legal  theories  on  labor  disputes,  the  issuance  of 
injunctions  was  merely  sporadic,  but  a  veritable  crop 
came  up  during  1893-1894.  Only  the  best-known  injunc- 
tions can  be  here  noted.  The  injunctions  issued  in  the 
course  of  the  Southwest  railway  strike  in  1886  and  the 
Burlington  strike  in  1888  have  already  received  mention. 
An  injunction  was  also  issued  by  a  Federal  court  during 
a  miners'  strike  at  Creur  d'Alene,  Idaho,  in  1892.1  A 
famous  injunction  was  the  one  of  Judges  Taft  and  Rickes 
in  1893,  which  directed  the  engineers,  who  were  employed 
by  connecting  railways,  to  handle  the  cars  of  the  Ann 
Arbor  and  Michigan  railway,  whose  engineers  were  on 
strike.2  This  order  elicited  much  criticism  because  it 
came  close  to  requiring  men  to  work  against  their  will. 
This  was  followed  by  the  injunction  of  Judge  Jenkins  in 
the  Northern  Pacific  case,  which  directly  prohibited  the 
quitting  of  work.3  From  this  injunction  the  defendants 
took  an  appeal,  with  the  result  that  in  Arthur  v.  Oakes  4 
it  was  once  for  all  established  that  the  quitting  of  work 
may  not  be  enjoined. 

During  the  Pullman  strike  numerous  injunctions,  most 
sweeping  in  character,  were  issued  by  the  Federal  courts 
upon  the  initiative  of  the  Department  of  Justice.  Under 
the  injunction  which  was  issued  in  Chicago  arose  the 
famous  contempt  case  against  Eugene  V.  Debs,5  which 
was  carried  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States. 
The  decision  of  the  court  in  this  case  is  notable,  because 
it  covered  the  main  points  of  doubt  above  mentioned  and 

»Cceur  d'Alene  Mining  Co.  ».  Miners'  Union,  51  Fed.  260  (1892). 

1  Toledo,  etc.  Co.  v.  Penn.  Co.,  54  Fed.  730  (1893). 

•Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust  Co.  v.  N.  P.  R.  Co.,  60  Fed.  803  (1895). 

•64  Fed.  310   (1894). 

•In  re  Debs,  158  U.  S.  564   (1894). 


placed  the  use  of  injunctions  in  labor  disputes  upon  a 
firm  legal  basis. 

Another  famous  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court  growing 
out  of  the  railway  strikes  of  the  early  nineties  was  in  the 
Lennon  case 1  in  1897.  Therein  the  court  held  that  all 
persons  who  have  actual  notice  of  the  issuance  of  an 
injunction  are  bound  to  obey  its  terms,  whether  they 
were  mentioned  by  name  or  not;  in  other  words,  the 
courts  had  evolved  the  "blanket  injunction." 

At  the  end  of  the  nineties,  the  labor  movement,  en- 
riched on  the  one  side  by  the  lessons  of  the  past  and  by 
the  possession  of  a  concrete  goal  in  the  trade  agreement, 
but  pressed  on  the  other  side  by  a  new  form  of  legal 
attack  and  by  the  growing  consolidation  of  industry, 
started  upon  a  career  of  new  power  but  faced  at  the  same 
time  new  difficulties. 
*  In  re  Lennon,  166  U.  S.  548  (1897). 



DIFFICULTIES,  1898-1914 

When,  in  1898,  industrial  prosperity  returned,  there 
came  with  it  a  rapid  expansion  of  labor  organization. 
At  no  time  in  its  history,  prior  to  the  World  War,  not 
excepting  the  Great  Upheaval  in  the  eighties,  did  labor 
organizations  make  such  important  gains  as  during  the 
following  five  years.  True,  in  none  of  these  years  did 
the  labor  movement  add  over  half  a  million  members  as 
in  the  memorable  year  of  1886 ;  nevertheless,  from  the 
standpoint  of  permanence,  the  upheaval  during  the 
eighties  can  scarcely  be  classed  with  the  one  which  began 
in  the  late  nineties. 

During  1898  the  membership  of  the  American  Federa- 
tion of  Labor  remained  practically  stationary,  but  dur- 
ing 1899  it  increased  by  about  70,000  (to  about  350,- 
000);  in  1900,  it  increased  by  200,000;  in  1901,  by 
240,000;  in  1902,  by  237,000;  in  1903,  by  441,000;  in 
1904,  by  210,000,  bringing  the  total  to  1,676,000.  In 
1905  a  backward  tide  set  in;  and  the  membership  de- 
creased by  nearly  200,000  during  that  year.  It  remained 
practically  stationary  until  1910,  when  the  upward 
movement  was  resumed,  finally  bringing  the  membership 
to  near  the  two  million  mark,  to  1,996,000,  in  1913.  If  we 
include  organizations  unaffiliated  with  the  Federation, 



among  them  the  bricklayers  1  and  the  four  railway 
brotherhoods,  with  about  700,000  members,  the  union 
membership  for  1913  will  be  brought  near  a  total  of 

A  better  index  of  progress  is  the  proportion  of  organ- 
ized workers  to  organizable  workers.  Two  such  estimates 
have  been  made.  Professor  George  E.  Barnett  figures 
the  organizable  workers  in  1900  at  21,837,000;  in  1910 
at  30,267,000.  On  this  basis  wage  earners  were  3.5  per 
cent,  organized  in  1900  and  7  per  cent,  in  1910.2  Leo 
Wolman  submits  more  detailed  figures  for  1910.  Ex- 
cluding employers,  the  salaried  group,  agricultural  and 
clerical  workers,  persons  engaged  in  personal  or  domestic 
service,  and  those  below  twenty  years  of  age  (unorgan- 
izable  workers),  the  organizable  total  was  11,490,944. 
With  an  estimated  trade  union  strength  of  2,116,317  for 
1910  the  percentage  of  the  organized  was  18. 4. 3  Exclud- 
ing only  employers  and  salaried  persons,  his  percentage 
was  7.7,  which  compares  closely  with  Professor  Barnett's. 

Of  greater  significance  are  Wolman's  figures  for  or- 
ganization by  industries.  These  computations  show  that 
in  1910  the  breweries  had  88.8  per  cent,  organized,  print- 
ing and  book  binding  34.3  per  cent.,  mining  30.5  per 
cent.,  transportation  17.3  per  cent.,  clothing  16.9  per 
cent.,  building  trades  16.2  per  cent.,  iron  and  steel  9.9 
per  cent.,  metal  4.7  per  cent.,  and  textile  3.7  per  cent.4 
By  separate  occupations,  railway  conductors,  brakemen, 
and  locomotive  engineers  were  from  50-100  per  cent. 

*  The  bricklayers  became  affiliated  in  1917. 

'"The  Growth  of  Labor  Organizations  in  the  United  States,  1897- 
1914,"  in  Quarterly  Journal  of  Economics,  Aug.,  1916,  p.  780. 

*"The  Extent  of  Trade  Unionism,"  in  Annals  of  American  Academy 
of  Political  Science,  Vol.  69,  p.  118. 

4  Ibid. 


organized;  printers,  locomotive  firemen,  molders  and 
plasterers,  from  30-50  per  cent.;  bakers,  carpenters, 
plumbers,  from  15-30  per  cent,  organized.1 

Accompanying  the  numerical  growth  of  labor  organ- 
izations was  an  extension  of  organization  into  heretofore 
untouched  trades  as  well  as  a  branching  out  into  new 
geographical  regions,  the  South  and  the  West.  On  the 
whole,  however,  though  the  Federation  was  not  unmind- 
ful of  the  unskilled,  still,  during  the  fifteen  years  after 
1898  it  brought  into  its  fold  principally  the  upper  strata 
of  semi-skilled  labor.  Down  to  the  "boom"  period 
brought  on  by  the  World  War,  the  Federation  did  not 
comprise  to  any  great  extent  either  the  totally  unskilled, 
or  the  partially  skilled  foreign-speaking  workmen,  with 
the  exception  of  the  miners  and  the  clothing  workers. 
In  other  words,  those  below  the  level  of  the  skilled  trades, 
which  did  gain  admittance,  were  principally  the  same 
elements  which  had  asserted  their  claim  to  organization 
during  the  stormy  period  of  the  Knights  of  Labor.2  The 
new  accretions  to  the  American  wage-earning  class  since 
the  eighties,  the  East  and  South  Europeans,  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  ever-growing  contingent  of  "floaters"  of 
native  and  North  and  West  European  stock,  on  the  other 
hand,  were  still  largely  outside  the  organization. 

The  years  of  prosperity  brought  an  intensified  activity 
of  the  trade  unions  on  a  scale  hitherto  unknown.  Wages 
were  raised  and  hours  reduced  all  along  the  line.  The 
new  strength  of  the  trade  unions  received  a  brilliant  test 

1  "The  Extent  of  Trade  Unionism,"  in  Annals  of  American  Academy 
of  Political  Science,  Vol.  69,  p.  118. 

"The  "federal  labor  unions"  (mixed  unions)  and  the  directly 
affiliated  local  trade  unions  (in  trades  in  which  a  national  union  does 
not  yet  exist)  are  forms  of  organization  which  the  Federation  de- 
signed for  bringing  in  the  more  miscellaneous  classes  of  labor.  The 
membership  in  these  has  seldom  reached  over  100,000. 


during  the  hard  times  following  the  financial  panic  of 
October  1907,  when  they  successfully  fought  wage  re- 
ductions. As  good  a  test  is  found  in  the  conquest  of  the 
shorter  day.  By  1900  the  eight-hour  day  was  the  rule  in 
the  building  trades,  in  granite  cutting  and  in  bituminous 
coal  mining.  The  most  spectacular  and  costly  eight-hour 
fight  was  waged  by  the  printers.  In  the  later  eighties 
and  early  nineties,  the  Typographical  Union  had  en- 
deavored to  establish  a  nine-hour  day  in  the  printing 
offices.  This  was  given  a  setback  by  the  introduction  of 
the  linotype  machine  during  the  period  of  depression, 
1893-1897.  In  spite  of  this  obstacle,  however,  the 
Typographical  Union  held  its  ground.  Adopting  the 
policy  that  only  journeymen  printers  must  operate  the 
linotype  machines,  the  union  was  able  to  meet  the  situa- 
tion. And,  furthermore,  in  1898,  through  agreement 
with  the  United  Typothetas  of  America,  the  national 
association  of  employers  in  book  and  job  printing,  the 
union  was  able  to  gain  the  nine-hour  day  in  substantially 
all  book  and  job  offices.  In  1903  the  union  demanded 
the  eight-hour  day  in  all  printing  offices  to  become  effec- 
tive January  1,  1906.  To  gain  an  advantage  over  the 
union,  the  United  Typothetse,  late  in  the  summer  of  1905, 
locked  out  all  its  union  men.  This  at  once  precipitated 
a  strike  for  the  eight -hour  day.  The  American  Federa- 
tion of  Labor  levied  a  special  assessment  on  all  its  mem- 
bers in  aid  of  the  strikers.  By  1907  the  Typographical 
Union  won  its  demand  all  along  the  line,  although  at  a 
tremendous  cost  of  money  running  into  several  million 
dollars,  and  in  1909  the  United  Typothetae  formally 
conceded  the  eight-hour  day. 

Another  proof  of  trade  union  progress  is  found  in  the 
spread  of  trade  agreements.    The  idea  of  a  joint  partner- 


ship  of  organized  labor  and  organized  capital  in  the 
management  of  industry,  which,  ever  since  the  fifties,  had 
been  struggling  for  acceptance,  finally  showed  definite 
signs  of  coming  to  be  materialized. 

(1)     The  Miners 

In  no  other  industry  has  a  union's  struggle  for  "rec- 
ognition" offered  a  richer  and  more  instructive  picture 
of  the  birth  of  the  new  order  with  its  difficulties  as  well 
as  its  promises  than  in  coal  mining.  Faced  in  the  an- 
thracite field  l  by  a  small  and  well  knitted  group  of  em- 
ployers, generally  considered  a  "trust,"  and  by  a  no 
less  difficult  situation  in  bituminous  mining  due  to  cut- 
throat competition  among  the  mine  operators,  the  United 
Mine  Workers  have  succeeded  in  a  space  of  fifteen  years 
in  unionizing  the  one  as  well  as  the  other;  while  at  the 
same  time  successfully  and  progressively  solving  the 
gigantic  internal  problem  of  welding  a  polyglot  mass  of 
workers  into  a  well  disciplined  and  obedient  army. 

The  miners'  union  attained  its  first  successes  in  the 
so-called  central  bituminous  competitive  field,  including 
Western  Pennsylvania,  West  Virginia,  Ohio,  Indiana, 
Michigan,  and  Illinois.  In  this  field  a  beginning  had  been 
made  in  1886  when  the  coal  operators  and  the  union  en- 
tered into  a  collective  agreement.  However,  its  scope 
was  practically  confined  to  Ohio  and  even  that  limited 
agreement  went  under  in  1890. 2  With  the  breakdown  of 

1 A  small  but  immensely  rich  area  in  Eastern  Pennsylvania  where 
the  only  anthracite  coal  deposits  in  the  United  States  are  found. 

"At  a  conference  at  Columbus,  Ohio,  in  January,  1886,  coal  oper- 
ators from  Western  Pennsylvania,  Ohio,  Indiana,  and  Illinois  met 
the  organized  miners  and  drew  up  an  agreement  covering  the  wages 
which  were  to  prevail  throughout  the  central  competitive  field  from 
May  1,  1886,  to  April  30,  1887.  The  scale  established  would  seem 
to  have  been  dictated  by  the  wish  to  give  the  markets  of  the  central 
competitive  field  to  the  Ohio  operators.  Ohio  was  favored  in  the 
scale  established  by  this  first  Interstate  conference  probably  because 


this  agreement,  the  membership  dwindled  so  that  by  the 
time  of  a  general  strike  in  1894,  the  total  paid-up  mem- 
bership was  barely  13,000.  This  strike  was  undertaken 
to  restore  the  wage-scale  of  1893,  but  during  the  ensuing 
years  of  depression  wages  were  cut  still  further.1 

The  turn  came  as  suddenly  as  it  was  spectacular.  In 
1897,  with  a  membership  which  had  dropped  to  10,000 
and  of  which  7000  were  in  Ohio  and  with  an  empty  treas- 
ury, the  United  Mine  Workers  called  a  general  strike 
trusting  to  a  rising  market  and  to  an  awakenend  spirit 
of  solidarity  in  the  majority  of  the  unorganized  after 
four  years  of  unemployment  and  distress.  In  fact  the 
leaders  had  not  miscalculated.  One  hundred  thousand 
or  more  coal  miners  obeyed  the  order  to  go  on  a  strike. 
In  Illinois  the  union  had  but  a  handful  of  members  when 
the  strike  started,  but  the  miners  struck  to  a  man.  The 
tie-up  was  practically  complete  except  in  West  Virginia. 
That  State  had  early  become  recognized  as  the  weakest 
spot  in  the  miners'  union's  armor.  Notwithstanding  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor  threw  almost  its  entire 
force  of  organizers  into  that  limited  area,  which  was  then 
only  beginning  to  assume  its  present  day  importance  in 
the  coal  mining  industry,  barely  one-third  of  the  miners 

more  than  half  of  the  operators  present  came  from  that  State,  and 
because  the  chief  strength  of  the  miners'  union  also  lay  in  that  State. 
To  prevent  friction  over  the  interpretation  of  the  Interstate  agree- 
ment, a  board  of  arbitration  and  conciliation  was  established.  This 
board  consisted  of  five  miners  and  five  operators  chosen  at  large, 
and  one  miner  and  operator  more  from  each  of  the  States  of  this 
field.  Such  a  board  of  arbitration  and  conciliation  was  provided  for 
in  all  of  the  Interstate  agreements  of  the  period  of  the  eighties. 
This  system  of  Interstate  agreement,  in  spite  of  the  cut-throat 
competition  raging  between  operators,  was  maintained  for  Pennsyl- 
vania and  Ohio  practically  until  1890,  Illinois  having  been  lost  in 
1887,  and  Indiana  in  1888.  It  formed  the  real  predecessor  of  the 
system  established  in  1898  and  in  vogue  thereafter. 
1See  above,  136. 


were  induced  to  strike.  A  contributing  factor  was  a  more 
energetic  interference  from  the  courts  than  in  other 
States.  All  marching  upon  the  highways  and  all  assem- 
blages of  the  strikers  in  large  gatherings  were  forbidden 
by  injunctions.  On  one  occasion  more  than  a  score  of 
men  were  sentenced  to  jail  for  contempt  of  court  by 
Federal  Judge  Goff.  The  handicap  in  West  Virginia 
was  offset  by  sympathy  and  aid  from  other  quarters. 
Many  unions  throughout  the  country  and  even  the  gen- 
eral public  sent  the  striking  miners  financial  aid.  In 
Illinois  Governor  John  R.  Tanner  refused  the  requests 
for  militia  made  by  several  sheriffs. 

The  general  strike  of  1897  ended  in  the  central  com- 
petitive field  after  a  twelve-weeks'  struggle.  The  settle- 
ment was  an  unqualified  victory  for  the  union.  It  con- 
ceded the  miners  a  20  per  cent,  increase  in  wages,  the 
establishment  of  the  eight-hour  day,  the  abolition  of 
company  stores,  semi-monthly  payments,  and  a  restora- 
tion of  the  system  of  fixing  Interstate  wage  rates  in 
annual  joint  conferences  with  the  operators,  which  meant 
official  recognition  of  the  United  Mine  Workers.  The 
operators  in  West  Virginia,  however,  refused  to  come  in. 

The  first  of  these  Interstate  conferences  was  held  in 
January,  1898,  at  which  the  miners  were  conceded  a 
further  increase  in  wages.  In  addition,  the  agreement, 
which  was  to  run  for  two  years,  established  for  Illinois 
the  run-of-mine  1  system  of  payment,  while  the  size  of  the 
screens  of  other  states  was  regulated;  and  it  also  con- 
ceded the  miners  the  check-off  system  2  in  every  district, 

1  The  run-of-mine  system  means  payment  by  weight  of  the  coal  as 
brought  out  of  the  mine  including  minute  pieces  and  impurities. 

3  The  check-off  system  refers  to  collection  of  union  dues.  It  means 
that  the  employer  agrees  to  deduct  from  the  wage  of  each  miner  the 
amount  of  his  union  dues,  thus  constituting  himself  the  union's 
financial  agent. 


save  that  of  Western  Pennsylvania.1  Such  a  compre- 
hensive victory  would  not  have  been  possible  had  it  not 
been  for  the  upward  trend  which  coal  prices  had  taken. 

But  great  as  was  the  union's  newly  discovered  power, 
it  was  spread  most  unevenly  over  the  central  competitive 
field.  Its  firmest  grip  was  in  Illinois.  The  well-filled 
treasury  of  the  Elinois  district  has  many  times  been  called 
upon  for  large  contributions  or  loans,  to  enable  the  union 
to  establish  itself  in  some  other  field.  The  weakest  hold 
of  the  United  Mine  Workers  has  been  in  West  Virginia. 
At  the  end  of  the  general  strike  of  1897,  the  West  Vir- 
ginia membership  was  only  about  4000.  Moreover,  a 
further  spread  of  the  organization  met  with  unusual  ob- 
stacles. A  large  percentage  of  the  miners  of  West  Vir- 
ginia are  Negroes  or  white  mountaineers.  These  have 
proven  more  difficult  to  organize  than  recent  Southern 
and  Eastern  European  immigrants,  who  formed  the  ma- 
jority in  the  other  districts.  And  yet  West  Virginia  as 
a  growing  mining  state  soon  assumed  a  high  strategic 
importance.  A  lower  wage  scale,  the  better  quality  of  its 
coal,  and  a  comparative  freedom  from  strikes  have  made 
West  Virginia  a  formidable  competitor  of  the  other  dis- 
tricts in  the  central  competitive  field.  Consequently 
West  Virginia  operators  have  been  able  to  operate  their 
mines  more  days  during  the  year  than  elsewhere;  and 
despite  the  lower  rates  per  ton,  the  West  Virginia  miners 
have  earned  but  little  less  annually  than  union  miners  in 
other  States.  But  above  all  the  United  Mine  Workers 
have  been  handicapped  in  West  Virginia  as  nowhere  else 
by  court  interference  in  strikes  and  in  campaigns  of  or- 
ganization. In  1907  a  temporary  injunction  was 
granted  at  the  behest  of  the  Hitchman  Coal  and  Coke 

1  In  that  district  the  check-off  was  granted  in  1902. 


Company,  a  West  Virginia  concern,  restraining  union  or- 
ganizers from  attempting  to  organize  employes  who 
signed  agreements  not  to  join  the  United  Mine  Workers 
while  in  the  employ  of  the  company.  The  injunction  was 
made  permanent  in  1913.  The  decree  of  the  District 
Court  was  reversed  by  the  Circuit  Court  of  Appeals  in 
1914,  but  was  sustained  by  the  United  States  Supreme 
Court  in  March  1917.1  Recently  the  United  States  Steel 
Corporation  became  a  dominant  factor  in  West  Virginia 
through  its  ownership  of  mines  and  lent  additional 
strength  to  the  already  strong  anti-union  determination 
of  the  employers. 

Very  early  the  United  Mine  Workers  established  a 
reputation  for  strict  adherence  to  agreements  made.  This 
faithfulness  to  a  pledged  word,  which  justified  itself  even 
from  the  standpoint  of  selfish  motive,  in  as  much  as  it 
gained  for  the  union  public  sympathy,  was  urged  upon 
all  occasions  by  John  Mitchell,  the  national  President  of 
the  Union.  The  first  test  came  in  1899,  when  coal  prices 
soared  up  rapidly  after  the  joint  conference  had  ad- 
journed. Although  they  might  have  won  higher  wages 
had  they  struck,  the  miners  observed  their  contracts.  A 
more  severe  test  came  in  1902  during  the  great  anthracite 
strike.2  A  special  union  convention  was  then  held  to  con- 
sider whether  the  bituminous  miners  should  be  called  out 
in  sympathy  with  the  hard  pressed  striking  miners  in  the 
anthracite  field.  By  a  large  majority,  however,  the  con- 
vention voted  not  to  strike  in  violation  of  the  agreements 
made  with  the  operators.  The  union  again  gave  proof  of 
statesmanly  self-control  when,  in  1904,  taking  into  ac- 
count the  depressed  condition  of  industry,  it  accepted 

1Hitchman  Coal  and  Coke  Company  t>.  Mitchell,  245  U.  S.  232. 
'See  below,  175-177. 


without  a  strike  a  reduction  in  wages  in  the  central  com- 
petitive field.  However,  as  against  the  miners'  conduct  in 
these  situations  must  be  reckoned  the  many  local  strikes 
or  "stoppages"  in  violation  of  agreements.  The  difficulty 
was  that  the  machinery  for  the  adjustment  of  local 
grievances  was  too  cumbersome. 

In  1906  the  trade  agreement  system  encountered  a  new 
difficulty  in  the  friction  which  developed  between  the 
operators  of  the  several  competitive  districts.  On  the 
surface,  the  source  of  the  friction  was  the  attempt  made 
by  the  Ohio  and  Illinois  operators  to  organize  a  national 
coal  operators*  association  to  take  the  place  of  the  sev- 
eral autonomous  district  organizations.  The  Pittsburgh 
operators,  however,  objected.  They  preferred  the  exist- 
ing system  of  agreements  under  which  each  district  or- 
ganization possessed  a  veto  power,  since  then  they  could 
keep  the  advantage  over  their  competitors  in  Ohio  and 
Indiana  with  which  they  had  started  under  the  original 
agreement  of  1898.  The  miners  in  this  emergency  threw 
their  power  against  the  national  operators'  association. 
A  suspension  throughout  most  districts  of  the  central 
competitive  field  followed.  In  the  end,  the  miners  won  an 
increase  in  wages,  but  the  Interstate  agreement  system 
was  suspended,  giving  place  to  separate  agreements  for 
each  district. 

In  1908  the  situation  of  1906  was  repeated.  This  time 
the  Illinois  operators  refused  to  attend  the  Interstate 
conference  on  the  ground  that  the  Interstate  agreement 
severely  handicapped  Illinois.  As  said  before,  ever  since 
1897  payment  in  Illinois  has  been  upon  the  run-of-mine 
basis ;  whereas  in  all  other  States  of  the  central  competi- 
tive field  the  miners  were  paid  for  screened  coal  only. 
With  the  operators  of  each  State  having  one  vote  in  the 


joint  conference,  it  can  be  understood  why  the  handicap 
against  Illinois  continued.  Theoretically,  of  course,  the 
Illinois  operators  might  have  voted  against  the  acceptance 
of  any  agreement  which  gave  an  advantage  to  other 
States ;  however,  against  this  weighed  the  fact  that  the 
union  was  strongest  in  Illinois.  The  Illinois  operators, 
hence,  preferred  to  deal  separately  with  the  United  Mine 
Workers.  Accordingly,  an  Interstate  agreement  was 
drawn  up,  applying  only  to  Indiana,  Ohio,  and  Pennsyl- 

In  1910,  the  Illinois  operators  again  refused  to  enter 
the  Interstate  conference,  but  this  time  the  United  Mine 
Workers  insisted  upon  a  return  to  the  Interstate  agree- 
ment system  of  1898.  On  April  1,  1910,  operations  were 
suspended  throughout  the  central  competitive  field.  By 
July  agreements  had  been  secured  in  every  State  save 
Illinois,  the  latter  State  holding  out  until  September. 
This  long  struggle  in  Illinois  was  the  first  real  test  of 
strength  between  the  operators  and  the  miners  since  1897. 
The  miners'  victory  made  it  inevitable  that  the  Illinois 
operators  should  eventually  reenter  the  Interstate  con- 

In  1912,  after  repeated  conferences,  the  net  result  was 
the  restoration  of  the  Interstate  agreement  as  it  existed 
before  1906.  The  special  burden  of  which  the  Illinois 
operators  had  been  complaining  was  not  removed;  yet 
they  were  compelled  by  the  union  to  remain  a  party  to 
the  Interstate  agreement.  The  union  justified  its  special 
treatment  of  the  operators  in  Illinois  on  the  ground  that 
the  run-of-mine  rates  were  40  per  cent,  below  the  screened 
coal  rates,  thus  compensating  them  amply  for  the  "slack" 
for  which  they  had  to  pay  under  this  system.  The  Fed- 
eral report  on  "Restriction  of  Output"  of  1904  substan- 


tiated  the  union's  contention.  Ultimately,  the  United 
Mine  Workers  unquestionably  hoped  to  establish  the  run- 
of-mine  system  throughout  the  central  competitive  field. 

The  union,  incidentally  to  its  policy  of  protecting  the 
miners,  has  considerably  affected  the  market  or  business 
structure  of  the  industry.  An  outstanding  policy  of  the 
union  has  been  to  equalize  competitive  costs  over  the 
entire  area  of  a  market  by  means  of  a  system  of  grading 
tonnage  rates  paid  to  the  miner,  whereby  competitive 
advantages  of  location,  thickness  of  vein,  and  the  like 
were  absorbed  in  higher  labor  costs.  This  doubtless 
tended  to  eliminate  cut-throat  competition  and  thus 
stabilize  the  industry.  On  the  other  hand,  it  may  have 
hindered  the  process  of  elimination  of  unprofitable  mines, 
and  therefore  may  be  in  some  measure  responsible  for  the 
present-day  overdevelopment  in  the  bituminous  mining 
industry,  which  results  in  periodic  unemployment  and  in 
idle  mines. 

In  the  anthracite  coal  field  in  Eastern  Pennsylvania  the 
difficulties  met  by  the  United  Mine'Workers  were  at  first 
far  greater  than  in  the  bituminous  branch  of  the  industry. 
First,  the  working  population  was  nearly  all  foreign- 
speaking,  and  the  union  thus  lacked  the  fulcrum  which  it 
found  in  Illinois  with  its  large  proportion  of  English- 
speaking  miners  accustomed  to  organization  and  to 
carrying  on  a  common  purpose.  Secondly,  the  employers, 
instead  of  being  numerous  and  united  only  for  joint  deal- 
ing with  labor,  as  in  bituminous  mining,  were  few  in 
number  besides  being  cemented  together  by  a  common 
selling  policy  on  top  of  a  common  labor  policy.  In  con- 
sequence, the  union  encountered  a  stone  wall  of  opposi- 
tion, which  its  loose  ranks  found  for  many  years  well-nigh 
impossible  to  overcome. 


During  the  general  strike  of  1897  the  United  Mine 
Workers  made  a  beginning  in  organizing  the  anthracite 
miners.  In  September  1900,  they  called  a  general  strike. 
Although  at  that  time  the  union  had  only  8000  members 
in  this  region,  the  strike  order  was  obeyed  by  over  100,- 
000  miners ;  and  within  a  few  weeks  the  strike  became 
truly  general.  Probably  the  union  could  not  have  won 
if  it  had  to  rely  solely  on  economic  strength.  However, 
the  impending  Presidential  election  led  to  an  interference 
by  Senator  Mark  Hanna,  President  McKinley's  campaign 
manager.  Through  him  President  John  Mitchell  of  the 
United  Mine  Workers  was  informed  that  the  operators 
would  abolish  the  objectionable  sliding  scale  system  of 
wage  payments,  increase  rates  10  per  cent,  and  agree  to 
meet  committees  of  their  employes  for  the  adjustment  of 
grievances.  This,  however,  did  not  carry  a  formal  recog- 
nition of  the  union;  it  was  not  a  trade  agreement  but 
merely  an  unwritten  understanding.  A  part  of  the  same 
understanding  was  that  the  terms  which  had  been  agreed 
upon  should  remain  in  force  until  April,  1901.  At  its 
expiration  the  identical  terms  were  renewed  for  another 
year,  while  the  negotiations  bore  the  same  informal  char- 

During  1902  the  essential  instability  of  the  arrange- 
ment led  to  sharp  friction.  The  miners  claimed  that 
many  operators  violated  the  unwritten  agreement.  The 
operators,  on  their  part,  charged  that  the  union  was 
using  every  means  for  practically  enforcing  the  closed 
shop,  which  was  not  granted  in  the  understanding.  In 
the  early  months  of  1902  the  miners  presented  demands 
for  a  reduction  of  the  hours  of  labor  from  10  to  9,  for  a 
twenty  per  cent,  increase  in  wages,  for  payment  according 
to  the  weight  of  coal  mined,  and  for  the  recognition  of 


the  union.     The  operators  refused  to  negotiate,  and  on 
May  9  the  famous  anthracite  strike  of  1902  began. 

It  is  unnecessary  to  detail  the  events  of  the  anthracite 
strike.  No  other  strike  is  better  known  and  remembered. 
More  than  150,000  miners  stood  out  for  approximately 
five  months.  The  strike  was  financed  by  a  levy  of  one 
dollar  per  week  upon  all  employed  miners  in  the  country, 
which  yielded  over  $2,000,000.  In  addition  several  hun- 
dred thousand  dollars  came  in  from  other  trade  unions 
and  from  the  public  generally.  In  October,  when  the 
country  was  facing  a  most  serious  coal  famine,  President 
Roosevelt  took  a  hand.  He  called  in  the  presidents  of 
the  anthracite  railroads  and  the  leading  union  officials 
for  a  conference  in  the  White  House  and  urged  arbitra- 
tion. At  first  he  met  with  rebuff  from  the  operators,  but 
shortly  afterward,  with  the  aid  of  friendly  pressure  from 
New  York  financiers,  the  operators  consented  to  accept 
the  award  of  a  commission  to  be  appointed  by  himself. 
This  was  the  well-known  Anthracite  Coal  Strike  Commis- 
sion. Its  appointment  terminated  the  strike.  Not  until 
more  than  a  half  year  later,  however,  was  the  award  of 
the  Commission  made.  It  conceded  the  miners  a  10  per 
cent,  increase  in  wages,  the  eight  and  nine-hour  day,  and 
the  privilege  of  having  a  union  check-weighman  at  the 
scale  where  the  coal  sent  up  in  cars  by  the  miners  is 
weighed.  Recognition  was  not  accorded  the  union,  except 
that  it  was  required  to  bear  one-half  of  the  expense  con- 
nected with  the  maintenance  of  a  joint  arbitration  board 
created  by  the  Commission.  When  this  award  was  an- 
nounced there  was  much  dissatisfaction  with  it  among 
the  miners.  President  Mitchell,  however,  put  forth  every 
effort  to  have  the  union  accept  the  award.  Upon  a  refer- 
endum vote  the  miners  accepted  his  view. 


The  anthracite  coal  strike  of  1902  was  doubtless  the 
most  important  single  event  in  the  history  of  American 
trade  unionism  until  that  time  and  has  since  scarcely 
been  surpassed.  To  be  sure,  events  like  the  great  railway 
strike  of  1877  and  the  Chicago  Anarchist  bomb  and  trial 
in  1886-1887  had  equally  forced  the  labor  question  into 
public  attention.  What  distinguished  the  anthracite  coal 
strike,  however,  was  that  for  the  first  time  a  labor  organ- 
ization tied  up  for  months  a  strategic  industry  and 
caused  wide  suffering  and  discomfort  to  the  public  with- 
out being  condemned  as  a  revolutionary  menace  to  the 
existing  social  order  calling  for  suppression  by  the  gov- 
ernment; it  was,  on  the  contrary,  adjudged  a  force  within 
the  preserves  of  orderly  society  and  entitled  to  public 
sympathy.  The  public  identified  the  anthracite  employ- 
ers with  the  trust  movement,  which  was  then  new  and 
seemingly  bent  upon  uprooting  the  traditional  free 
American  social  order;  by  contrast,  the  striking  miners 
appeared  almost  as  champions  of  Old  America.  A  strong 
contributory  factor  was  the  clumsy  tactics  of  the  em- 
ployers who  played  into  the  hands  of  the  leaders  of  the 
miners.  The  latter,  especially  John  Mitchell,  conducted 
their  case  with  great  skill. 

Yet  the  award  of  the  Commission  fell  considerably 
short  of  what  the  union  and  its  sympathizers  outside  the 
ranks  of  labor  hoped  for.  For  by  refusing  to  grant 
formal  recognition,  the  Commission  failed  to  constitute 
unionism  into  a  publicly  recognized  agency  in  the  man- 
agement of  industry  and  declared  by  implication  that  the 
role  of  unionism  ended  with  a  presentation  of  grievances 
and  complaints. 

For  ten  years  after  the  strike  of  1902  the  union  failed 
to  develop  the  strength  in  the  anthracite  field  which  many 

believed  would  follow.  Certain  proof  of  the  weakness  of 
the  union  is  furnished  by  the  fact  that  the  wage-scale 
in  that  field  remained  stationary  until  1912  despite  a 
rising  cost  of  living.  The  wages  of  the  anthracite  miners 
in  1912  were  slightly  higher  than  in  1902,  because  coal 
prices  had  increased  and  the  Anthracite  Coal  Strike  Com- 
mission had  reestablished  a  sliding  scale  system  of  ton- 
nage rates. 

A  great  weakness,  while  the  union  still  struggled  for 
existence,  was  the  lack  of  the  "check-off."  Membership 
would  swell  immediately  before  the  expiration  of  the 
agreement  but  diminish  with  restoration  of  quiet.  With 
no  immediate  outlook  for  a  strike  the  Slav  and  Italian 
miners  refused  to  pay  union  dues.  The  original  award 
was  to  be  in  force  until  April  1,  1906.  In  June,  1905, 
the  union  membership  was  less  than  39,000.  But  by 
April  1,  1906,  one-half  of  the  miners  were  in  the  union. 
A  month's  suspension  of  operations  followed.  Early  in 
May  the  union  and  the  operators  reached  an  agreement 
to  leave  the  award  of  the  Anthracite  Coal  Strike  Com- 
mission in  force  for  another  three  years. 

The  following  three  years  brought  a  duplication  of 
the  developments  of  1903-1906.  Again  membership  fell 
off  only  to  return  in  the  spring  of  1909.  Again  the  union 
demanded  formal  recognition,  and  again  it  was  refused. 
Again  the  original  award  was  extended  for  three  more 

In  the  winter  of  1912,  when  the  time  for  renewing  the 
agreement  again  drew  near,  the  entire  membership  in  the 
three  anthracite  districts  was  slightly  above  29,000. 
Nevertheless,  the  union  demanded  a  twenty  per  cent, 
raise,  a  complete  recognition  of  the  union,  the  check-off, 
and  yearly  agreements,  in  addition  to  a  more  expeditious 


system  of  settling  local  grievances  to  replace  the  slow 
and  cumbersome  joint  arbitration  boards  provided  by 
the  award  of  the  Commission.  A  strike  of  180,000  an- 
thracite miners  followed  on  April  1,  1912,  during  which 
the  operators  made  no  attempt  to  run  their  mines.  The 
strike  ended  within  a  month  on  the  basis  of  the  abolition 
of  the  sliding  scale,  a  wage  increase  of  approximately 
10  per  cent.,  and  a  revision  of  the  arbitration  machinery 
in  local  disputes.  This  was  coupled  with  a  somewhat 
larger  degree  of  recognition,  but  by  no  means  a  complete 
recognition.  Nor  was  the  check-off  system  granted. 
Strangest  of  all,  the  agreement  called  for  a  four-year 
contract,  as  against  a  one-year  contract  originally  de- 
manded by  the  union.  In  spite  of  the  opposition  of  local 
leaders,  the  miners  accepted  the  agreement.  President 
White's  chief  plea  for  acceptance  was  the  need  to  rebuild 
the  union  before  anything  ambitious  could  be  attempted. 
After  1912  the  union  entered  upon  the  work  of  organ- 
ization in  earnest.  In  the  following  two  years  the  mem- 
bership was  more  than  quadrupled.  With  the  stopping 
of  immigration  due  to  the  European  War,  the  power  of 
the  union  was  greatly  increased.  Consequently,  in  1916, 
when  the  agreement  was  renewed,  the  miners  were  ac- 
corded not  only  a  substantial  wage  increase  and  the  eight- 
hour  day  but  also  full  rcognition.  The  United  Mine 
Workers  have  thus  at  last  succeeded  in  wresting  a  share 
of  industrial  control  from  one  of  the  strongest  capital- 
istic powers  of  the  country;  while  demonstrating  beyond 
doubt  that,  with  intelligent  preparation  and  with  sympa- 
thetic treatment,  the  polyglot  immigrant  masses  from 
Southern  and  Eastern  Europe,  long  thought  to  be  im- 
pervious to  the  idea  of  labor  organization,  can  be  changed 
into  reliable  material  for  unionism. 


The  growth  of  the  union  in  general  is  shown  by  the 
following  figures.  In  1898  it  was  33,000;  in  1900, 
116,000;  in  1903,  247,000;  in  1908,  252,000;  and  in 
1913,  378,000.! 

(2)     The  Railway  Men 

The  railway  men  are  divided  into  three  gioups.  One 
group  comprises  the  Brotherhood  of  Locomotive  Engi- 
neers, the  Order  of  Railroad  Conductors,  the  Brotherhood 
of  Firemen  and  Enginemen,  and  the  Brotherhood  of  Rail- 
road Trainmen.  These  are  the  oldest  and  strongest 
railway  men's  organizations  and  do  not  belong  to  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor.  A  second  group  are  the 
shopmen,  comprising  the  International  Association  of 
Machinists;  the  International  Brotherhood  of  Black- 
smiths, Drop  Forgers,  and  Helpers ;  the  Brotherhood  of 
Railway  Carmen  of  America;  the  Amalgamated  Sheet 
Metal  Workers'  International  Alliance;  the  Brotherhood 
of  Boilermakers  and  Iron  Ship  Builders  and  Helpers  of 
America;  the  International  Brotherhood  of  Electrical 
Workers ;  and  the  International  Brotherhood  of  Sta- 
tionary Firemen  and  Oilers.  A  third  and  more  miscel- 
laneous group  are  the  Brotherhood  of  Railway  Clerks,  the 
Order  of  Railway  Telegraphers,  the  Switchmen's  Union 
of  North  America,  the  International  Brotherhood  of 
Maintenance  of  Way  Employes  and  Railroad  Shop 
Laborers,  and  the  Brotherhood  of  Railway  Signalmen. 
The  organizations  comprised  in  the  latter  two  groups 

1The  actual  membership  of  the  union  is  considerably  above  these 
figures,  since  they  are  based  upon  the  dues-paying  membership,  and 
miners  out  on  strike  are  exempted  from  the  payment  of  all  dues. 
The  number  of  miners  who  always  act  with  the  union  is  much  larger 
still.  Even  in  non-union  fields  the  United  Mine  Workers  have  always 
been  successful  in  getting  thousands  of  miners  to  obey  their  order 
to  strike. 


belong  to  the  American  Federation  of  Labor.  For  the 
period  from  1898  to  the  outbreak  of  the  War,  the  or- 
ganizations, popularly  known  as  the  "brotherhoods," 
namely,  those  of  the  engineers,  conductors,  firemen,  and 
trainmen,  are  of  outstanding  importance. 

The  brotherhoods  were  unique  among  American  labor 
organizations  in  that  for  many  years  they  practically  re- 
produced in  most  of  their  features  the  sort  of  unionism 
typified  by  the  great  "Amalgamated"  unions  of  the  fifties 
and  sixties  in  England.1  Like  these  unions  the  brother- 
hoods stressed  mutual  insurance  and  benefits  and  dis- 
couraged when  they  did  not  actually  prohibit  striking. 
It  should,  however,  be  added  that  the  emphasis  on  in- 
surance was  due  not  to  "philosophy,"  but  to  the  practical 
consideration  that,  owing  to  the  extra  hazardous  nature 
of  their  occupations,  the  men  could  get  no  insurance  pro- 
tection from  ordinary  commercial  insurance  companies. 

By  the  end  of  the  eighties  the  brotherhoods  began  to 
press  energetically  for  improvements  in  employment  con- 
ditions and  found  the  railways  not  disinclined  to  grant 
their  demands  in  a  measure.  This  was  due  in  great  meas- 
ure to  the  strategic  position  of  these  trades,  which  have 
it  in  their  power  completely  to  tie  up  the  industry  when 
on  strike,  causing  enormous  losses  to  the  carriers.2  Ac- 
cordingly, they  were  granted  wages  which  fairly  placed 
them  among  the  lower  professional  groups  in  society  as 
well  as  other  privileges,  notably  "seniority"  in  promotion, 
that  is  promotion  based  on  length  of  service  and  not  on 
a  free  selection  by  the  officials.  Seniority  was  all  the 
more  important  since  the  train  personnel  service  is  so 

1  See  Webb,  History  of  Trade  Unionism,  p.  205  ff. 
*This  was  demonstrated  in  the  bitterly  fought  strike  on  the  Chi- 
cago, Burlington  and  Quincy  Railroad  in  1888.     (See  above,  130-131.) 


organized  that  each  employe  will  pass  several  times  in 
the  regular  course  of  his  career  from  a  lower  to  a  higher 
rung  on  the  industrial  ladder.1  For  instance,  a  typical 
passenger  train  engineer  starts  as  fireman  on  a  freight 
train,  advances  to  a  fireman  on  a  passenger  train,  then 
to  engineer  on  a  freight  train,  and  finally  to  engineer  on 
a  passenger  train.  A  similar  sequence  is  arranged  in  ad- 
vancing from  brakeman  to  conductor.  Along  with 
seniority  the  brotherhoods  received  the  right  of  appeal 
in  cases  of  discharge,  which  has  done  much  to  eliminate 
discrimination.  Since  they  were  enjoying  such  excep- 
tional advantages  relative  to  income,  to  the  security  of 
the  job,  and  to  the  stability  of  their  organization,  it  is 
not  surprising,  in  view  of  the  limited  class  solidarity 
among  American  laboring  men  in  general,  that  these 
groups  of  workers  should  have  chosen  to  stand  alone  in 
their  wage  bargaining  and  that  their  refusal  to  enter 
"entangling  alliances"  with  other  less  favored  groups 
should  have  gone  even  to  the  length  of  staying  out  of  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor. 

This  condition  of  relative  harmony  between  employer 
and  employe,  notwithstanding  the  energetic  bargaining, 
continued  for  about  fiften  years  until  it  was  disturbed  by 
factors  beyond  the  control  of  either  railway  companies  or 
brotherhoods.  The  steady  rise  in  the  cost  of  living  forced 
the  brotherhoods  to  intensify  their  demands  for  increased 
wages.  At  the  same  time  an  ever  tightening  regulation 
of  railway  rates  by  the  Federal  government  since  1906 
practically  prevented  a  shift  of  increased  costs  to  the 
shipper.  "Class  struggles"  on  the  railways  began  in 

1  Seniority  also  decides  the  assignment  to  "runs,"  which  differ 
greatly  in  desirability,  and  it  gives  preference  over  junior  employes  in 
keeping  the  job  when  it  is  necessary  to  lay  men  off. 


The  new  situation  was  brought  home  to  the  brother- 
hoods in  the  course  of  several  wage  arbitration  cases  in 
which  they  figured.1  The  outcome  taught  them  that  the 
public  will  give  them  only  limited  support  in  their  efforts 
to  maintain  their  real  income  at  the  old  high  level  com- 
pared with  other  classes  of  workers. 

A  most  important  case  arose  from  a  "concerted  move- 
ment" in  1912  2  of  the  engineers  and  firemen  on  the  52 
Eastern  roads  for  higher  wages.  Two  separate  arbitra- 
tion boards  were  appointed.  The  engineers'  board  con- 
sisted of  seven  members,  one  each  for  the  interests  in- 
volved and  five  representing  the  public.  The  award  was 
unsatisfactory  to  the  engineers,  first,  because  of  the 
meager  raise  in  wages  and,  second,  because  it  contained  a 
strong  plea  to  Congress  and  the  country  to  have  all 
wages  of  all  railway  employes  fixed  by  a  government 
commission,  which  implied  a  restriction  of  the  right  to 
strike.  The  award  in  the  firemen's  case,  which  was  de- 
cided practically  simultaneously  with  the  engineers', 
failed  to  satisfy  either  side. 

The  conductors  and  trainmen  on  the  Eastern  roads 
were  next  to  move  "in  concert"  for  increased  wages.  The 
roads  refused  and  the  brotherhoods  decided  by  a  good 
majority  to  quit  work.  This  threatened  strike  occasioned 
the  passage  of  the  so-called  Newlands  bill  as  an  amend- 
ment to  the  Erdman  Act,  with  increased  powers  to  the 
government  in  mediation  and  with  more  specified  condi- 

1The  first  arbitration  act  was  passed  by  Congress  in  1888.  In 
1898  it  was  superseded  by  the  well  known  Erdman  Act,  which  pre- 
scribed rules  for  mediation  and  voluntary  arbitration. 

1  Concerted  movements  began  in  1907  as  joint  demands  upon  all 
railways  in  a  single  section  of  the  country,  like  the  East  or  the  West, 
by  a  single  group  of  employes;  after  1912  two  or  more  brotherhoods 
initiated  common  concerted  movements,  first  in  one  section  only, 
and  at  last  covering  all  the  railways  of  the  country. 


tions  relative  to  the  work  of  the  arbitration  boards  chosen 
for  each  occasion.  Whereupon  both  sides  agreed  to  sub- 
mit to  arbitration. 

The  award  allowed  an  increase  in  wages  of  seven  per 
cent.,  or  less  than  one-half  of  that  demanded,  but  dis- 
allowed a  plea  made  by  the  men  for  uniformity  of  the 
wage  scales  East  and  West,  and  denied  the  demanded 
time  and  a  half  for  overtime.  The  men  accepted  but 
the  decision  added  to  their  growing  opposition  to  the 
principle  of  arbitration. 

Another  arbitration  case,  in  1914,  involving  the  engi- 
neers and  firemen  on  the  Western  roads  led  the  brother- 
hoods to  come  out  openly  against  arbitration.  The 
award  was  signed  only  by  the  representatives  on  the  board 
of  the  employers  and  the  public.  A  characteristic  after- 
math of  this  case  was  an  attack  made  by  the  unions  upon 
one  of  the  "neutrals"  on  the  board.  His  impartiality 
was  questioned  because  of  his  relations  with  several  con- 
cerns which  owned  large  amounts  of  railroad  securities. 
Therefore,  when  in  1916  the  four  brotherhoods  together 
demanded  the  eight-hour  day,  they  categorically  refused 
to  consider  arbitration.1  The  evolution  to  a  fighting 
unionism  had  become  complete. 

While  the  brotherhoods  of  the  train  service  personnel 
were  thus  shifting  their  tactics,  they  kept  drawing  nearer 
to  the  position  held  by  the  other  unions  in  the  railway 
service.  These  had  rarely  had  the  good  fortune  to  bask 
in  the  sunshine  of  their  employers'  approval  and  "recog- 
nition." Some  railways,  of  the  more  liberal  sort,  made 
agreements  with  the  machinists  and  with  the  other  shop 
unions.  On  the  whole,  however,  the  hold  of  these  or- 
ganizations upon  their  industry  was  of  a  precarious  sort, 
^ee  below,  230-233. 


To  meet  their  strong  opponents  on  a  basis  nearer  to 
equality,  they  started  about  1904  a  movement  for  "system 
federations,"  *  that  is,  federations  of  all  organized  trades 
through  the  length  of  a  given  railway  system  as,  for 
instance,  the  Pennsylvania  Railroad  or  the  Illinois  Cen- 
tral Railroad.  In  turn  the  creation  of  system  federations 
sharpened  the  employers'  antagonism.  Some  railway 
systems,  like  the  Illinois  Central,  might  be  willing  to  enter 
into  agreements  with  the  separate  crafts,  but  refused  to 
deal  with  a  federation  of  crafts.  In  1912,  stimulated  by 
a  dispute  on  the  Illinois  Central  Railroad  and  on  the 
Harriman  lines  in  general,  involving  the  issue  of  system 
federations,  a  Federation  of  System  Federations  was 
formed  by  forty  systems  upon  an  aggressive  program. 
In  1908  a  weak  and  rather  tentative  Railway  Employes' 
Department  had  been  launched  by  the  American  Federa- 
tion of  Labor.  The  Federation  of  Federations  was  thus 
a  rival  organization  and  "illegal"  or,  at  best,  "extra- 
legal"  from  the  standpoint  of  the  American  Federation 
of  Labor.  The  situation,  however,  was  too  acute  to 
permit  the  consideration  of  "legality"  to  enter.  An  ad- 
justment was  made  and  the  Federation  of  System  Federa- 
tions was  "legitimatized"  through  fusion  with  the  "De- 
partment," to  which  it  gave  its  constitution,  officers,  and 
fighting  purpose,  and  from  which  it  took  only  its  name. 
This  is  the  now  well-known  Railway  Employes*  Depart- 
ment of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  (  embracing  all 
important  national  unions  of  the  railway  workers  except- 
ing the  four  brotherhoods),  and  which,  as  we  shall  see, 
came  into  its  own  when  the  government  took  over  the 

1  Long  before  this,  about  the  middle  of  the  nineties,  the  first  system 
federations  were  initiated  by  the  brotherhoods  and  were  confined  to 
them  only;  they  took  up  adjustment  of  grievances  and  related 

railways  from  their  private  owners  eight  months  after 
America's  entry  into  the  World  War. 

(3)     The  Machinery  and  Metal  Trades 

Unlike  the  miners  and  the  railway  brotherhoods,  the 
unions  in  the  machinery  and  metal  trades  met  with  small 
success  in  their  efforts  for  "recognition"  and  trade  agree- 
ments. The  outstanding  unions  in  the  industry  are  the 
International  Association  of  Machinists  and  the  Inter- 
national Molders'  Union,  with  a  half  dozen  smaller  and 
very  small  unions.1  The  molders'  International  united 
in  the  same  union  the  stove  molders,  who  as  was  seen 
had  been  "recognized"  in  1891,  and  the  molders  of  parts 
of  machinery  and  other  foundry  products.  The  latter 
found  the  National  Founders*  Association  as  their  an- 
tagonist or  potential  "co-partner"  in  the  industry. 

The  upward  swing  in  business  since  1898,  combined 
with  the  growth  of  trade  unionism  and  with  the  successful 
negotiation  of  the  Interstate  agreement  in  the  soft  coal 
mining  industry,  created  an  atmosphere  favorable  to 
trade  agreements.  For  a  time  "recognition"  and  its  im- 
plications seemed  to  all  concerned,  the  employer,  the 
unions,  and  the  public,  a  sort  of  cure-all  for  industrial 
disputes.  Accordingly,  in  March  1899,  the  National 
Founders'  Association  (organized  in  the  previous  year 
and  comprising  foundrymen  engaged  principally  in  ma- 
chinery manufacturing  and  jobbing)  and  the  Interna- 
tional Molders'  Union  of  North  America  met  and  drew 

1The  International  Brotherhood  of  Blacksmiths,  the  Brotherhood 
of  Boilermakers  and  Iron  Shipbuilders,  the  Pattern  Makers'  League, 
the  International  Union  of  Stove  Mounters,  the  International  Union 
of  Metal  Polishers,  Platers,  Brass  and  Silver  Workers,  the  Interna- 
tional Federation  of  Draftsmen's  Unions,  and  the  International 
Brotherhood  of  Foundry  Employes. 


up  the  following  tersely  worded  agreement  which  became 
known  as  the  New  York  Agreement : 

"That  in  event  of  a  dispute  arising  between  members  of 
the  respective  organizations,  a  reasonable  effort  shall  be 
made  by  the  parties  directly  at  interest  to  effect  a  satis- 
factory adjustment  of  the  difficulty;  failing  to  do  which, 
either  party  shall  have  the  right  to  ask  its  reference  to  a 
Committee  of  Arbitration  which  shall  consist  of  the  Presi- 
dent of  the  National  Founders'  Association  and  the 
President  of  the  Iron  Molders'  Union  or  their  representa- 
tives, and  two  other  representatives  from  each  organiza- 
tion appointed  .by  the  respective  Presidents. 

"The  finding  of  this  Committee  of  Arbitration  by 
majority  vote  shall  be  considered  final  in  so  far  as  the 
future  action  of  the  respective  organizations  is  concerned. 

"Pending  settlement  by  the  Committee,  there  shall  be 
no  cessation  of  work  at  the  instance  of  either  party  to  the 
dispute.  The  Committee  of  Arbitration  shall  meet  within 
two  weeks  after  reference  of  dispute  to  them." 

The  agreement  was  a  triumph  for  the  principle  of  pure 
conciliation  as  distinct  from  arbitration  by  a  third  party. 
Both  sides  preferred  to  run  the  risk  of  a  possible  deadlock 
in  the  conciliation  machinery  to  throwing  decisions  into 
the  hands  of  an  umpire,  who  would  be  an  uncertain 
quantity  both  as  regards  special  bias  and  understanding 
of  the  industry. 

The  initial  meeting  of  the  arbitration  committee  was 
held  in  Cleveland,  in  May  1899,  to  consider  the  demand 
by  the  unions  at  Worcester,  Massachusetts,  and  Provi- 
dence, Rhode  Island,  for  a  minimum  wage  which  the  em- 
ployers had  refused.  In  each  city  one  member  of  the 
National  Founders'  Association  was  involved  and  the 
men  in  these  firms  went  to  work  pending  the  arbitration 
decision,  while  the  others  stayed  out  on  strike. 


The  meeting  ended  inauspiciously.  The  founders  and 
molders  seemed  not  to  be  able  to  settle  their  difficulties. 
Each  side  stood  fast  on  its  own  principles  and  the  arbi- 
tration committees  regularly  became  deadlocked.  The 
question  of  a  minimum  wage  was  the  most  important  issue. 
From  1899  to  1902  several  joint  conventions  were  held 
to  discuss  the  wage  question.  In  1899  a  settlement  was 
made,  which,  however,  proved  of  short  duration.  In  No- 
vember 1902,  the  two  organizations  met,  differed,  and 
arranged  for  a  sub-committee  to  meet  in  March  1903. 
The  sub-committee  met  but  could  reach  no  agreement. 

The  two  organizations  clashed  also  on  the  question  of 
apprentices.  The  founders  contended  that,  because  there 
were  not  enough  molders  to  fill  the  present  demand,  the 
union  restrictions  as  to  the  employment  of  apprentices 
should  be  removed.  The  union  argued  that  a  removal  of 
the  restriction  would  cause  unlimited  competition  among 
molders  and  eventually  the  founders  could  employ  them 
at  their  own  price.  They  likewise  failed  to  agree  on  the 
matter  of  classifying  molders. 

Owing  to  the  stalling  of  the  conciliation  machinery 
many  strikes  occurred  in  violation  at  least  of  the  spirit 
of  the  agreement.  July  1,  1901,  the  molders  struck  in 
Cleveland  for  an  increase  in  wages ;  arbitration  commit- 
tees were  appointed  but  failed  to  make  a  settlement.  In 
Chicago  and  San  Francisco  strikes  occurred  for  the  same 

It  was  at  last  becoming  evident  that  the  New  York 
agreement  was  not  working  well.  In  the  autumn  of  1903 
business  prosperity  reached  its  high  watermark  and  then 
came  a  sharp  depression  which  lessened  the  demand  for 
molders.  Early  in  1904  the  National  Founders'  Associa- 
tion took  advantage  of  this  situation  to  reduce  wages  and 


finally  practically  abrogated  the  New  York  agreement. 
In  April,  1904,  the  founders  and  molders  tried  to  reach 
a  decision  as  to  how  the  agreement  could  be  made  effective, 
but  gave  it  up  after  four  days  and  nights  of  constant 
consideration.  The  founders  claimed  that  the  molders 
violated  the  agreement  in  54  out  of  the  96  cases  that  came 
up  during  the  five  years  of  its  life;  and  further  justified 
their  action  on  the  ground  that  the  union  persistently 
refused  to  submit  to  arbitration  by  an  impartial  outsider 
the  issues  upon  which  the  agreement  was  finally  wrecked. 

An  agreement  similar  to  the  New  York  one  was  con- 
cluded in  1900  between  the  National  Metal  Trades'  As- 
sociation and  the  International  Association  of  Machin- 
ists. The  National  Metal  Trades'  Association  had  been 
organized  in  1899  by  members  of  the  National  Founders' 
Association,  whose  foundries  formed  only  a  part  of  their 
manufacturing  plants.  The  spur  to  action  was  given 
by  a  strike  called  by  the  machinists  in  Chicago  and  other 
cities  for  the  nine-hour  day.  After  eight  weeks  of  intense 
struggle  the  Association  made  a  settlement  granting  a 
promise  of  the  shorter  day.  Although  hailed  as  one  of 
the  big  agreements  in  labor  history,  it  lasted  only  one 
year,  and  broke  up  on  the  issue  of  making  the  nine-hour 
day  general  in  the  Association  shops.  The  machinists 
continued  to  make  numerous  agreements  with  individual 
firms,  especially  the  smaller  ones,  but  the  general  agree- 
ment was  never  renewed.  Thereafter  the  National  Metal 
Trades'  Association  became  an  uncompromising  enemy 
of  organized  labor. 

In  the  following  ten  years  both  molders  and  machinists 
went  on  fighting  for  control  and  engaged  in  strikes  with 
more  or  less  success.  But  the  industry  as  a  whole  never 
again  came  so  near  to  embracing  the  idea  of  a  joint  co- 


partnership  between  organized  capital  and  labor  as  in 

(4)     The  Employers'  Reaction 

With  the  disruption  of  the  agreement  systems  in  the 
machinery  producing  and  foundry  industries,  the  idea  of 
collective  bargaining  and  union  recognition  suffered  a 
setback ;  and  the  employers'  uneasiness,  which  had  already 
steadily  been  feeding  on  the  unions*  mounting  pressure 
for  control,  now  increased  materially.  As  long,  however, 
as  business  remained  prosperous  and  a  rising  demand  for 
labor  favored  the  unions,  most  of  the  agreements  were 
permitted  to  continue.  Therefore,  it  was  not  until  the 
industrial  depression  of  1907-1908  had  freed  the  em- 
ployers' hands  that  agreements  were  disrupted  wholesale. 
In  1905  the  Structural  Erectors'  Association  discon- 
tinued its  agreements  with  the  Structural  Iron  Workers* 
Union,  causing  a  dispute  which  continued  over  many 
years.  In  the  course  of  this  dispute  the  union  replied 
to  the  victorious  assaults  of  the  employers  by  tactics  of 
violence  and  murder,  which  culminated  in  the  fatal  ex- 
plosion in  the  Los  Angeles  Times  Building  in  1911.  In 

1906  the    employing    lithographers    discontinued    their 
national   agreement   with  the  lithographers'  union.     In 

1907  the  United  Typothetae  broke  with  the  pressmen, 
and  the  stove  founders  with  the  stove  mounters  and  stove 
polishers.    In  1908  the  agreements  between  the  Lake  Car- 
riers and  Lumber  Carriers  (both  operating  on  the  Great 
Lakes)   and  the  seafaring  and  water  front  unions  were 

In  the  operation  of  these  unsuccessful  agreements  the 
most  serious  stumbling  blocks  were  the  union  "working 
rules,"  that  is  to  say,  the  restrictive  rules  which  unions 


strove  to  impose  on  employers  in  the  exercise  of  their 
managerial  powers  in  the  shop,  and  for  which  the  latter 
adopted  the  sinister  collective  designation  of  "restriction 
of  output." 

Successful  trade  unionism  has  always  pressed  "work- 
ing rules"  on  the  employer.  As  early  as  the  first  decade 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  the  trade  societies  then  exist- 
ing tried  to  impose  on  the  masters  the  closed  shop  and 
restrictions  on  apprenticeship  along  with  higher  wages 
and  shorter  hours.  As  a  union  advances  from  an 
ephemeral  association  to  a  stable  organization  more  and 
more  the  emphasis  is  shifted  from  wages  to  working  rules. 
Unionists  have  discovered  that  on  the  whole  wages  are  the 
unstable  factor,  going  up  or  down,  depending  on  fluctuat- 
ing business  conditions  and  cost  of  living ;  but  that  once 
they  have  established  their  power  by  making  the  employer 
accept  their  working  rules,  high  wages  will  ultimately 

These  working  rules  are  seldom  improvisations  of  the 
moment,  but,  crude  and  one-sided  as  they  often  are,  they 
are  the  product  of  a  long  labor  experience  and  have  taken 
many  years  to  be  shaped  and  hammered  out.  Since  their 
purpose  is  protective,  they  can  best  be  classified  with 
reference  to  the  particular  thing  in  the  workingman's 
life  which  they  are  designed  to  protect:  the  standard  of 
living  of  the  trade  group,  health,  the  security  of  the 
worker's  job,  equal  treatment  in  the  shop  and  an  equal 
chance  with  other  workmen  in  promotion,  the  bargaining 
power  of  the  trade  group,  as  a  whole,  and  the  safety  of 
the  union  from  the  employer's  attempts  to  undermine  it. 
We  shall  mention  only  a  few  of  these  rules  by  way  of 
illustration.  Thus  all  rules  relating  to  methods  of  wage 
payment,  like  the  prohibition  of  piece  work  and  of  bonus 


systems   (including  those  associated  with  scientific  man- 
agement systems),  are  primarily  devices  to  protect  the 
wage  earner's  rate  of  pay  against  being  "nibbled  away" 
by  the  employer;  and  in  part  also  to  protect  his  health 
against   undue    exertion.      Other   rules    like   the   normal 
(usually  the  eight-hour)  day  with  a  higher  rate  for  over- 
time; the  rule  demanding  a  guarantee  of  continuous  em- 
ployment for  a  stated  time  or  a  guarantee  of  minimum 
earnings,  regardless  of  the  quantity  of  work  available  in 
the  shop;  again  the  demand  for  the  sharing  of  work  in 
slack  times  among  all  employes ;  and  further,  when  lay- 
offs become  necessary,  the  demand  of  recognition  by  the 
employer  of  a  right  to  continuous  employment  based  on 
"seniority"  in  the  shop ; — all  these  have  for  their  common 
aim  chiefly  the  protection  of  the  job.     Another  sort  of 
rules,  like  the  obstruction  to  the  splitting  up  of  trades 
and  the  restrictions  on  apprenticeship,  have  in  view  the 
protection  of  the  bargaining  power  of  the  craft  group — 
through  artificially  maintaining  an  undiminished  demand 
for  skilled  labor,  as  well  as  through  a  reduction  of  the 
number   of   competitors,  present   and   future,   for  jobs. 
The  protection  of  the  union  against  the  employer's  de- 
signs, actual  or  potential,  is  sought  by  an  insistence  on 
the  closed  union  shop,  by  the  recognition  of  the  right  of 
appeal  to  grievance  boards  in  cases  of  discharge  to  pre- 
vent anti-union  discrimination,  and  through  establishing 
a  seniority  right  in  promotion  which  binds  the  worker's 
allegiance  to  his  union  rather  than  to  the  employer. 

With  these  rigid  rules,  partly  already  enforced  on  the 
employer  by  strikes  or  threats  to  strike  and  partly  as 
yet  unrealized  but  energetically  pushed,  trade  unionism 
enters  the  stage  of  the  trade  agreement.  The  problem 
of  industrial  government  then  becomes  one  of  steady 


adjustment  of  the  conflicting  claims  of  employer  and  union 
for  the  province  of  shop  control  staked  out  by  these 
working  rules.  When  the  two  sides  are  approximately 
equal  in  bargaining  strength  (and  lasting  agreements  are 
possible  only  when  this  condition  obtains),  a  promising 
line  of  compromise,  as  recent  experience  has  shown,  has 
been  to  extend  to  the  unions  and  their  members  in  some 
form  that  will  least  obstruct  shop  efficiency  the  very  same 
kind  of  guarantees  which  they  strive  to  obtain  through 
rules  of  their  own  making.  For  instance,  an  employer 
might  induce  a  union  to  give  up  or  agree  to  mitigate  its 
working  rules  designed  to  protect  the  job  by  offering  a 
quid  pro  quo  in  a  guarantee  of  employment  for  a  stated 
number  of  weeks  during  the  year;  and  likewise,  a  union 
might  hope  to  counteract  the  employer's  natural  hanker- 
ing for  being  "boss  in  his  own  business,"  free  of  any  union 
working  rules,  only  provided  it  guaranteed  him  a  sufficient 
output  per  unit  of  labor  time  and  wage  investment. 

However,  compromises  of  this  sort  are  pure  experi- 
ments even  at  present — fifteen  to  twenty  years  after  the 
dissolution  of  those  agreements ;  and  they  certainly  re- 
quire more  faith  in  government  by  agreement  and  more 
patience  than  one  could  expect  in  the  participants  in 
these  earlier  agreements.  It  is  not  surprising,  therefore, 
that  the  short  period  of  agreements  after  1898  should 
in  many  industries  have  formed  but  a  prelude  to  an  "open- 
shop"  movement.1 

1  Professor  Barnett  attributes  the  failure  of  these  agreements 
chiefly  to  faulty  agreement  machinery.  The  working  rules,  he  points 
out,  are  rules  made  by  the  national  union  and  therefore  can  be 
changed  by  the  national  union  only.  At  the  same  time  the  agree- 
ments were  national  only  in  so  far  as  they  provided  for  national 
conciliation  machinery;  the  fixing  of  wages  was  left  to  local  bodies. 
Consequently,  the  national  employers'  associations  lacked  the  power 
to  offer  the  unions  an  indispensable  quid  pro  quo  in  higher  wages 


After  their  breach  with  the  union,  the  National  Found- 
ers' Association  and  the  National  Metal  Trades*  Asso- 
ciation have  gone  about  the  business  of  union  wrecking  in 
a  systematic  way.  They  have  maintained  a  so-called 
"labor  bureau,"  furnishing  men  to  their  members  when- 
ever additional  help  was  needed,  and  keeping  a  complete 
card  system  record  of  every  man  in  the  employ  of  mem- 
bers. By  this  system  occasion  was  removed  for  employers 
communicating  with  the  business  agents  of  the  various 
unions  when  new  men  were  wanted.  The  associations  have 
had  in  their  regular  pay  a  large  number  of  non-union 
men,  or  "strike-breakers,"  who  were  sent  to  the  shop  of 
any  member  whose  employes  were  on  strike. 

In  addition  to  these  and  other  national  organizations, 
the  trade  unions  were  attacked  by  a  large  and  important 
class  of  local  employers*  associations.  The  most  influ- 
ential association  of  this  class  was  the  Employers'  Asso- 
ciation of  Dayton,  Ohio.  This  association  had  a  standing 
strike  committee  which,  in  trying  to  break  a  strike,  was 
authorized  to  offer  rewards  to  the  men  who  continued  at 
work,  and  even  to  compensate  the  employer  for  loss  of 
production  to  the  limit  of  one  dollar  per  day  for  each 
man  on  strike.  Also  a  system  was  adopted  of  issuing 
cards  to  all  employes,  which  the  latter,  in  case  of  changing 
employment,  were  obliged  to  present  to  the  new  employer 
and  upon  which  the  old  employer  inscribed  his  recommen- 
dation. The  extreme  anti-unionism  of  the  Dayton  Asso- 
ciation is  best  attested  by  its  policy  of  taking  into  mem- 
bership employers  who  were  threatened  with  strikes,  not- 
withstanding the  heavy  financial  obligations  involved. 

for  a  compromise  on  working  rules.  ("National  and  District  Sys- 
tems of  Collective  Bargaining  in  the  United  States,"  in  Quarterly 
Journal  of  Economics,  May,  1912,  pp.  425  ff.) 


Another  class  of  local  associations  were  the  "Citizens' 
Alliances,"  which  did  not  restrict  membership  to  em- 
ployers but  admitted  all  citizens,  the  only  qualification 
being  that  the  applicant  be  not  a  member  of  any  labor 
organization.  These  organizations  were  frequently 
started  by  employers  and  secured  cooperation  of  citizens 
generally.  In  some  places  there  were  two  associations, 
an  employers'  and  a  Citizens'  Alliance.  A  good  example 
of  this  was  the  Citizens'  Alliances  of  Denver,  Colorado, 
organized  in  1903.  These  "Citizens'  Alliances,"  being  by 
virtue  of  mixed  membership  more  than  a  mere  employers' 
organization,  claimed  in  time  of  strikes  to  voice  the  sen- 
timent of  the  community  in  general. 

So  much  for  the  employers'  counter  attacks  on  trade 
unions  on  the  strictly  industrial  front.  But  there  were 
also  a  legal  front  and  a  political  front.  In  1902  was 
organized  the  American  Anti-Boycott  Association,  a  se- 
cret body  composed  mainly  of  manufacturers.  The  pur- 
pose of  the  organization  was  to  oppose  by  legal  proceed- 
ings the  boycotts  of  trade  unions,  and  to  secure  statutory 
enactments  against  the  boycott.  The  energies  of  the 
association  have  been  devoted  mainly  to  taking  certain 
typical  cases  to  the  courts  in  order  thereby  to  create 
legal  precedents.  The  famous  Danbury  Hatters'  Case,  in 
which  the  Sherman  Anti-Trust  law  was  invoked  against 
the  hatters'  union,  was  fought  in  the  courts  by  this 

The  employers'  fight  on  the  political  front  was  in  charge 
of  the  National  Association  of  Manufacturers.  This 
association  was  originally  organized  in  1895  for  the  pur- 
suit of  purely  trade  interests,  but  about  1903,  under  the 
influence  of  the  Dayton,  Ohio,  group  of  employers,  turned 
to  combating  trade  unions.  It  closely  cooperated  with 


other  employers*  associations  in  the  industrial  and  legal 
field,  but  its  chief  efforts  lay  in  the  political  or  legisla- 
tive field,  where  it  has  succeeded  through  clever  lobbying 
and  manipulations  in  nullifying  labor's  political  influ- 
ence, especially  in  Congress.  The  National  Association 
of  Manufacturers  saw  to  it  that  Congress  and  State  Legis- 
latures might  not  weaken  the  effect  of  court  orders,  injunc- 
tions and  decisions  on  boycotts,  closed  shop,  and  related 

The  "open-shop  movement"  in  its  several  aspects,  in- 
dustrial, legal,  and  political,  continued  strong  from  1903 
to  1909.  Nevertheless,  despite  most  persistent  effort  and 
despite  the  opportunity  offered  by  the  business  depres- 
sion which  followed  the  financial  panic  of  1907,  the  re- 
sults were  not  remarkable.  True,  it  was  a  factor  in 
checking  the  rapid  rate  of  expansion  of  unionism,  but  it 
scarcely  compelled  a  retrogression  from  ground  already 
conquered.  It  is  enough  to  point  out  that  the  unions 
managed  to  prevent  wage  reductions  in  the  organized 
trades  notwithstanding  the  unemployment  and  distress 
of  1907-1908.  On  the  whole  trade  unionism  held  its 
own  against  employers  in  strictly  competitive  industry. 
Different,  however,  was  the  outcome  in  industries  in  which 
the  number  of  employers  had  been  reduced  by  monopolis- 
tic or  semi-monopolistic  mergers. 

The  steel  industry  is  the  outstanding  instance.1  The 
disastrous  Homestead  strike  of  1892 2  had  eliminated 
unionism  from  the  steel  plants  of  Pittsburgh.  However, 
the  Carnegie  Steel  Company  was  only  a  highly  efficient 
and  powerful  corporation,  not  yet  a  "trust."  The  panic 

1  The   following  account  is  taken   from  Chapter  X   of  the  Steel 
Workers  by  John  A.  Fitch,  published  by  the  Russell  Sage  Foundation. 
»See  above,  133-135. 


of  1893  dealt  another  blow  to  the  Amalgamated  Associ- 
ation of  Iron  &  Steel  Workers.  The  steel  mills  of  Alle- 
ghany  County,  outside  Pittsburgh,  were  all  put  upon  a 
non-union  basis  before  1900.  In  Pittsburgh,  the  iron  mills, 
too,  became  non-union  between  1890  and  1900.  There 
remained  to  the  organization  only  the  iron  mills  west  of 
Pittsburgh,  the  large  steel  mills  of  Illinois,  and  a  large 
proportion  of  the  sheet,  tin,  and  iron  hoop  mills  of  the 
country.  In  1900  there  began  to  be  whisperings  of  a 
gigantic  consolidation  in  the  steel  industry.  The  Amal- 
gamated officials  were  alarmed.  In  any  such  combination 
the  Carnegie  Steel  Company,  an  old  enemy  of  unionism, 
would  easily  be  first  and  would,  they  feared,  insist  on 
driving  the  union  out  of  every  mill  in  the  combination. 
Then  it  occurred  to  President  Shaffer  and  his  associates 
that  it  might  be  a  propitious  time  to  press  for  recogni- 
tion while  the  new  corporation  was  forming.  Anxious  for 
public  confidence  and  to  float  their  securities,  the  com- 
panies could  not  afford  a  labor  controversy. 

Accordingly,  wlien  the  new  scales  were  to  be  signed  in 
July  1901,  the  Amalgamated  Association  demanded  of 
the  American  Tin  Plate  Company  that  it  sign  a  scale 
not  only  for  those  mills  that  had  been  regarded  as  union 
but  for  all  of  its  mills.  This  was  agreed,  provided  the 
American  Sheet  Steel  Company  would  agree  to  the  same. 
The  latter  company  refused,  and  a  strike  was  started 
against  the  American  Tin  Plate  Company,  the  American 
Sheet  Steel  Company,  and  the  American  Steel  Hoop  Com- 
pany. In  conferences  held  on  July  11,  12,  and  13  these 
companies  offered  to  sign  for  all  tin  mills  but  one,  for  all 
the  sheet  mills  that  had  been  signed  for  in  the  preceding 
year  and  for  four  other  mills  that  had  been  non-union, 
and  for  all  the  hoop  mills  that  had  been  signed  for  in  the 


preceding  year.  This  highly  advantageous  offer  was 
foolishly  rejected  by  the  representatives  of  the  union; 
they  demanded  all  the  mills  or  none.  The  strike  then  went 
on  in  earnest.  In  August,  President  Shaffer  called  on 
all  the  men  working  in  mills  of  the  United  States  Steel 
Corporation  to  come  out  on  strike. 

By  the  middle  of  August  it  was  evident  that  the  Asso- 
ciation had  made  a  mistake.  Instead  of  finding  their  task 
easier  because  the  United  States  Steel  Corporation  had 
just  been  formed,  they  found  that  corporation  ready  to 
bring  all  its  tremendous  power  to  bear  against  the  organ- 
ization. President  Shaffer  offered  to  arbitrate  the  whole 
matter,  but  the  proposal  was  rejected;  and  at  the  end  of 
August  the  strike  was  declared  at  an  end. 

The  steel  industry  was  apparently  closed  to  unionism.1 

(5)    Legislation,   Courts,   and   Politics 

While  trade  unionism  was  thus  on  the  whole  holding 
its  ground  against  the  employers  and  even  winning  vic- 
tories and  recognition,  its  influence  on  National  and  State 
legislation  failed  for  many  years  to  reflect  its  growing 
economic  strength.  The  scant  success  with  legislation 
resulted,  on  the  one  hand,  from  the  very  expansion  of  the 
Federation  into  new  fields,  which  absorbed  nearly  all  its 
means  and  energy ;  but  was  due  in  a  still  greater  measure 
to  a  solidification  of  capitalist  control  in  the  Republican 
party  and  in  Congress,  against  which  President  Roosevelt 
directed  his  spectacular  campaign.  A  good  illustration  is 

*The  opposition  of  the  Steel  Corporation  to  unionism  was  an 
important  factor  in  the  disruption  of  the  agreement  systems  in  the 
Structural  iron-erecting  industry  in  1905  and  in  the  carrying  industry 
on  the  Great  Lakes  in  1906;  in  each  of  these  industries  the  Cor- 
poration holds  a  place  of  considerable  control. 


furnished  by  the  attempt  to  get  a  workable  eight-hour 
law  on  government  work. 

In  the  main  the  leaders  of  the  Federation  placed  slight 
reliance  upon  efforts  to  shorten  the  working  day  through 
legislation.  The  movement  for  shorter  hours  by  law  for 
women,  which  first  attained  importance  in  the  nineties, 
was  not  the  work  of  organized  labor  but  of  humanitarians 
and  social  workers.  To  be  sure,  the  Federation  has  sup- 
ported such  laws  for  women  and  children  workers,  but 
so  far  as  adult  male  labor  was  concerned,  it  has  always 
preferred  to  leave  the  field  clear  for  the  trade  unions. 
The  exception  to  the  rule  was  the  working  day  on  public 

The  Federal  eight-hour  day  law  began  to  receive  atten- 
tion from  the  Federation  towards  the  end  of  the  eighties. 
By  that  time  the  status  of  the  law  of  1868  which  decreed 
the  eight -hour  day  on  Federal  government  work  1  had 
been  greatly  altered.  In  a  decision  rendered  in  1887  the 
Supreme  Court  held  that  the  eight-hour  day  law  of  1868 
was  merely  directory  to  the  officials  of  the  Federal  gov- 
ernment, but  did  not  invalidate  contracts  made  by  them 
not  containing  an  eight-hour  clause.  To  counteract  this 
decision  a  special  law  was  passed  in  1888,  with  the  sup- 
port of  the  Federation,  establishing  the  eight-hour  day 
in  the  United  States  Printing  Office  and  for  letter  carriers. 
In  1892  a  new  general  eight-hour  law  was  passed,  which 
provided  that  eight-hours  should  be  the  length  of  the 
working  day  on  all  public  works  of  the  United  States, 
whether  directed  by  the  government  or  under  contract  or 
sub-contract.  Within  the  next  few  years  interpretations 
rendered  by  attorney  generals  of  the  United  States  prac- 
tically rendered  the  law  useless. 

1  See  above,  47-49. 


In  1895  the  Federation  began  to  press  in  earnest  for 
a  satisfactory  eight-hour  law.  In  1896  its  eight-hour 
bill  passed  the  House  of  Representatives  unanimously. 
In  the  Senate  it  was  introduced  by  Senator  Kyle,  the 
chairman  of  the  committee  on  Education  and  Labor. 
After  its  introduction,  however,  hearings  upon  the  bill 
were  delayed  so  long  that  action  was  prevented  during  the 
long  session.  In  the  short  session  of  1898-1899  the  bill 
met  the  cruel  fate  of  having  its  introducer,  Senator  Kyle, 
submit  a  minority  report  against  it.  Under  the  cir- 
cumstances no  vote  upon  the  bill  could  be  had  in  the 
Senate.  In  the  next  Congress,  1899-1901,  the  eight-hour 
bill  once  more  passed  the  House  of  Representatives  only 
to  be  lost  in  the  Senate  by  failure  to  come  to  a  vote.  In 
1902,  the  bill  again  unanimously  passed  the  House,  but 
was  not  even  reported  upon  by  the  Senate  committee.  In 
the  hearings  upon  the  eight-hour  bill  in  that  year  the 
opposition  of  the  National  Manufacturers'  Association 
was  first  manifested.  In  1904  the  House  Labor  Commit- 
tee sidetracked  a  similar  bill  by  recommending  that  the 
Department  of  Commerce  and  Labor  should  investigate 
its  merits.  Secretary  Metcalf,  however,  declared  that  the 
questions  submitted  to  his  Department  with  reference  to 
the  eight-hour  bill  were  "well-nigh  unintelligible.'*  In 
1906  the  House  Labor  Committee,  at  a  very  late  stage  in 
the  session,  reported  "favorably"  upon  the  eight  hour  bill. 
At  the  same  time  it  eliminated  all  chances  of  passage  of 
the  bill  through  the  failure  of  a  majority  of  the  members 
of  the  committee  to  sign  the  "favorable"  report  made. 
This  session  of  Congress,  also,  allowed  a  "rider"  to  be 
added  to  the  Panama  Canal  bill,  exempting  the  canal  con- 
struction from  the  provisions  of  the  eight-hour  law.  In 
the  next  two  Congresses  no  report  could  be  obtained  from 


the  labor  committees  of  either  House  upon  the  general 
eight-hour  day  bill,  despite  the  fact  that  President  Roose- 
velt and  later  President  Taft  recommended  such  legisla- 
tion. In  the  sessions  of  the  Congress  of  1911-1913  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor  hit  upon  a  new  plan.  This 
was  the  attachment  of  "riders"  to  departmental  appro- 
priation bills  requiring  that  all  work  contracted  for  by 
these  departments  must  be  done  under  the  eight-hour 
system.  The  most  important  "rider"  of  this  character 
was  that  attached  to  the  naval  appropriation  bill.  Under 
its  provisions  the  Attorney-General  held  that  in  all  work 
done  in  shipyards  upon  vessels  built  for  the  Federal  gov- 
ernment the  eight -hour  rule  must  be  applied.  Finally, 
in  June  1912,  a  Democratic  House  and  a  Republican 
Senate  passed  the  eight-hour  bill  supported  by  the  Amer- 
ican Federation  of  Labor  with  some  amendments,  which 
the  Federation  did  not  find  seriously  objectionable;  and 
President  Taft  signed  it. 

Still  better  proof  of  the  slight  influence  of  the  Feder- 
ation upon  government  is  furnished  by  the  vicissitudes  of 
its  anti-injunction  bills  in  Congress.  The  Federation 
had  been  awakened  to  the  seriousness  of  the  matter  of  the 
injunction  by  the  Debs  case.  A  bill  of  its  sponsoring  pro- 
viding for  jury  trials  in  "indirect"  contempt  cases  passed 
the  Senate  in  1896  only  to  be  killed  in  the  House.  In 
1900  only  eight  votes  were  recorded  in  the  House  against 
a  bill  exempting  labor  unions  from  the  Sherman  Anti- 
Trust  Act;  it  failed,  however,  of  passage  in  the  Senate. 
In  1902  an  anti-injunction  bill  championed  by  the  Amer- 
ican Federation  of  Labor  passed  the  House  of  Represen- 
tatives. That  was  the  last  time,  however,  for  many  years 
to  come  when  such  a  bill  was  even  reported  out  of  com- 
mittee. Thereafter,  for  a  decade,  the  controlling  powers 


in  Congress  had  their  faces  set  against  removal  by  law 
of  the  judicial  interference  in  labor's  use  of  its  economic 
strength  against  employers. 

In  the  meantime,  however,  new  court  decisions  made 
the  situation  more  and  more  critical.  A  climax  was 
reached  in  1908-1909.  In  February  1908,  came  the 
Supreme  Court  decision  in  the  Danbury  Hatters*  case, 
which  held  that  members  of  a  labor  union  could  be  held 
financially  responsible  to  the  full  amount  of  their  indi- 
vidual property  under  the  Sherman  Anti-Trust  Act  for 
losses  to  business  occasioned  by  an  interstate  boycott.1 
By  way  of  contrast,  the  Supreme  Court  within  the  same 
week  held  unconstitutional  the  portion  of  the  Erdman 
Act  which  prohibited  discrimination  by  railways  against 
workmen  on  account  of  their  membership  in  a  union.2 
One  year  later,  in  the  Buck's  Stove  and  Range  Company 
boycott  case,  Gompers,  Mitchell,  and  Morrison,  the  three 
most  prominent  officials  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor,  were  sentenced  by  a  lower  court  in  the  District  of 
Columbia  to  long  terms  in  prison  for  violating  an  injunc- 
tion which  prohibited  all  mention  of  the  fact  that  the 
plaintiff  firm  had  ever  been  boycotted.3  Even  though 
neither  these  nor  subsequent  court  decisions  had  the  para- 
lyzing effect  upon  American  trade  unionism  which  its 
enemies  hoped  for  and  its  friends  feared,  the  situation 
called  for  a  change  in  tactics.  It  thus  came  about  that 
the  Federation,  which,  as  was  seen,  by  the  very  principles 
of  its  program  wished  to  let  government  alone, — as  it 

1Loewe  v.  Lawlor,  208  U.  S.  274  (1908). 

1  Adair  v.  U.  S.,  208  U.  S.  161  (1908). 

*36  Wash,  Law  Rep.  436  (1909).  Gompers  was  finally  sentenced  to 
imprisonment  for  thirty  days  and  the  other  two  defendants  were  fined 
$500  each.  These  penalties  were  later  lifted  by  the  Supreme  Court 
on  a  technicality,  233  U.  S.  604  (1914). 


indeed  expected  little  good  of  government, — was  obliged 
to  enter  into  competition  with  the  employers  for  con- 
trolling government ;  this  was  because  one  branch  of  the 
government,  namely  the  judicial  one,  would  not  let  it 

A  growing  impatience  with  Congress  was  manifested  in 
resolutions  adopted  by  successive  conventions.  In  1902 
the  convention  authorized  the  Executive  Council  to  take 
"such  further  steps  as  will  secure  the  nomination — and 
the  election — of  only  such  men  as  are  fully  and  satisfac- 
torily pledged  to  the  support  of  the  bills"  championed  by 
the  Federation.  Accordingly,  the  Executive  Council 
prepared  a  series  of  questions  to  be  submitted  to  all  can- 
didates for  Congress  in  1904  by  the  local  unions  of  each 

The  Federation  was  more  active  in  the  Congressional 
election  of  1906.  Early  in  the  year  the  Executive  Coun- 
cil urged  affiliated  unions  to  use  their  influence  to  prevent 
the  nomination  in  party  primaries  or  conventions  of  can- 
didates for  Congress  who  refused  to  endorse  labor's  de- 
mands, and  where  both  parties  nominated  refractory 
candidates  to  run  independent  labor  candidates.  The 
labor  campaign  was  placed  in  the  hands  of  a  Labor  Rep- 
resentation Committee,  which  made  use  of  press  publicity 
and  other  standard  means.  Trade  union  speakers  were 
sent  into  the  districts  of  the  most  conspicuous  enemies  of 
labor's  demands  to  urge  their  defeat.  The  battle  royal 
was  waged  against  Congressman  Littlefield  of  Maine.  A 
dozen  union  officials,  headed  by  President  Gompers,  in- 
vaded his  district  to  tell  the  electorate  of  his  insults  to 
organized  labor.  However,  he  was  reflected,  although 
with  a  reduced  plurality  over  the  preceding  election.  The 
only  positive  success  was  the  election  of  McDermott  of 


the  commercial  telegraphers*  union  in  Chicago.  Presi- 
dent Gompers,  however,  insisted  that  the  cutting  down 
of  the  majorities  of  the  conspicuous  enemies  of  labor's 
demands  gave  "more  than  a  hint"  of  what  organized  labor 
"can  and  may  do  when  thoroughly  prepared  to  exercise 
its  political  strength."  Nevertheless  the  next  Congress 
was  even  more  hostile  than  the  preceding  one.  The  con- 
vention of  the  Federation  following  the  election  approved 
the  new  tactics,  but  was  careful  at  the  same  time  to  de- 
clare that  the  Federation  was  neither  allied  with  any 
political  party  nor  had  any  intention  of  forming  an  inde- 
pendent labor  party. 

In  the  Presidential  election  of  1908,  however,  the  Feder- 
ation virtually  entered  into  an  alliance  with  the  Demo- 
crats. At  a  "Protest  Conference"  in  March,  1908,  at- 
tended by  the  executive  officers  of  most  of  the  affiliated 
national  unions  as  well  as  by  the  representatives  of  sev- 
eral farmers'  organizations,  the  threat  was  uttered  that 
organized  labor  would  make  a  determined  effort  in  the 
coming  campaign  to  defeat  its  enemies,  whether  "candi- 
dates for  President,  for  Congress,  or  other  offices."  The 
next  step  was  the  presentation  of  the  demands  of  the 
Federation  to  the  platform  committees  of  the  conventions 
of  both  parties.  The  wording  of  the  proposed  anti-injunc- 
tion plank  suggests  that  it  had  been  framed  after  con- 
sultation with  the  Democratic  leaders,  since  it  omitted 
to  demand  the  sweeping  away  of  the  doctrine  of  malicious 
conspiracy  or  the  prohibition  of  the  issuance  of  in- 
junctions to  protect  business  rights,  which  had  regularly 
been  asked  by  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  since 
1904.  In  its  place  was  substituted  an  indefinite  state- 
ment against  the  issuance  of  injunctions  in  labor  disputes 
where  none  would  be  allowed  if  no  labor  dispute  existed 


and  a  declaration  in  favor  of  jury  trial  on  the  charge  of 
contempt  of  court. 

The  Republicans  paid  scant  attention  to  the  planks 
of  the  Federation.  Their  platform  merely  reiterated  the 
recognized  law  upon  the  allowance  of  equity  relief;  and 
as  if  to  leave  no  further  doubt  in  the  minds  of  the  labor 
leaders,  proceeded  to  nominate  for  President,  William  H. 
Taft,  who  as  a  Federal  judge  in  the  early  nineties  was 
responsible  for  some  of  the  most  sweeping  injunctions 
ever  issued  in  labor  disputes.  A  year  earlier  Gompers  had 
characterized  Taft  as  "the  injunction  standard-bearer" 
and  as  an  impossible  candidate.  The  Democratic  plat- 
form, on  the  other  hand,  verbatim  repeated  the  Federation 
plank  on  the  injunction  question  and  nominated  Bryan. 

After  the  party  conventions  had  adjourned  the  Amer- 
ican Federationist  entered  on  a  vigorous  attack  upon  the 
Republican  platform  and  candidate.  President  Gompers 
recognized  that  this  was  equivalent  to  an  endorsement  of 
Bryan,  but  pleaded  that  "in  performing  a  solemn  duty 
at  this  time  in  support  of  a  political  party,  labor  does 
not  become  partisan  to  a  political  party,  but  partisan  to 
a  principle.'*  Substantially,  all  prominent  non-Socialist 
trade-union  officials  followed  Gompers'  lead.  That  the 
trade  unionists  did  not  vote  solidly  for  Bryan,  however, 
is  apparent  from  the  distribution  of  the  vote.  On  the 
other  hand,  it  is  true  that  the  Socialist  vote  in  1908  in 
almost  all  trade-union  centers  was  not  materially  above 
that  of  1904,  which  would  seem  to  warrant  the  conclusion 
that  Gompers  may  have  "delivered  to  Bryan"  not  a  few 
labor  votes  which  would  otherwise  have  gone  to  Debs. 

In  the  Congressional  election  of  1910  the  Federation 
repeated  the  policy  of  "reward  your  friends,  and  punish 
your  enemies."  However,  it  avoided  more  successfully 


the  appearance  of  partisanship.  Many  progressive  Re- 
publicans received  as  strong  support  as  did  Democratic 
candidates.  Nevertheless  the  Democratic  majority  in 
the  new  House  meant  that  the  Federation  was  at  last 
"on  the  inside'*  of  one  branch  of  the  government.  In  ad- 
dition, fifteen  men  holding  cards  of  membership  in  unions, 
were  elected  to  Congress,  which  was  the  largest  number 
on  record.  Furthermore  William  B.  Wilson,  Ex-Secre- 
tary of  the  United  Mine  Workers,  was  appointed  chair- 
man of  the  important  House  Committee  on  Labor. 

The  Congress  of  1911-1913  with  its  Democratic  House 
of  Representatives  passed  a  large  portion  of  the  legisla- 
tion which  the  Federation  had  been  urging  for  fifteen 
years.  It  passed  an  eight-hour  law  on  government  con- 
tract work,  as  already  noted,  and  a  seaman's  bill,  which 
went  far  to  grant  to  the  sailors  the  freedom  of  contract 
enjoyed  by  other  wage  earners.  It  created  a  Department 
of  Labor  with  a  seat  in  the  Cabinet.  It  also  attached 
a  "rider"  to  the  appropriation  bill  for  the  Department 
of  Justice  enjoining  the  use  of  any  of  the  funds  for  pur- 
poses of  prosecuting  labor  organizations  under  the  Sher- 
man Anti-Trust  Law  and  other  Federal  laws.  In  the 
presidential  campaign  of  1912  Gompers  pointed  to  the 
legislation  favorable  to  labor  initiated  by  the  Democratic 
House  of  Representatives  and  let  the  workers  draw  their 
own  conclusions.  The  corner  stone  of  the  Federation's 
legislative  program,  the  legal  exemption  of  trade  unions 
from  the  operation  of  anti-trust  legislation  and  from 
court  interference  in  disputes  by  means  of  injunctions, 
was  yet  to  be  laid.  By  inference,  therefore,  the  election 
of  a  Democratic  administration  was  the  logical  means 
to  that  end. 

At  last,  with  the  election  of  Woodrow  Wilson  as  Presi- 


dent  and  of  a  Democratic  Congress  in  1912,  the  political 
friends  of  the  Federation  controlled  all  branches  of  gov- 
ernment. William  B.  Wilson  was  given  the  place  of 
Secretary  of  Labor.  Hereafter,  for  at  least  seven  years, 
the  Federation  was  an  "insider"  in  the  national  govern- 
ment. The  road  now  seemed  clear  to  the  attainment 
by  trade  unions  of  freedom  from  court  interference  in 
struggles  against  employers — a  judicial  laissez-faire. 
The  political  program  initiated  in  1906  seemed  to  be 
bearing  fruit. 

The  drift  into  politics,  since  1906,  has  differed  essen- 
tially from  that  of  earlier  periods.  It  has  been  a  move- 
ment coming  from  "on  top,"  not  from  the  masses  of  the 
laborers  themselves.  Hard  times  and  defeats  in  strikes 
have  not  very  prominently  figured.  Instead  of  a  move- 
ment led  by  local  unions  and  by  city  centrals  as  had  been 
the  case  practically  in  all  preceding  political  attempts, 
the  Executive  Council  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  now  became  the  directing  force.  The  rank  and 
file  seem  to  have  been  much  less  stirred  than  the  leaders ; 
for  the  member  who  held  no  union  office  felt  less  intensely 
the  menace  from  injunctions  than  the  officials  who  might 
face  a  prison  sentence  for  contempt  of  court.  Probably 
for  this  reason  the  "delivery"  of  the  labor  vote  by  the  Fed- 
eration has  ever  been  so  largely  problematical.  That  the 
Federation  leaders  were  able  to  .force  the  desired  conces- 
sions from  one  of  the  political  parties  by  holding  out  a 
quid  pro  quo  of  such  an  uncertain  value  is  at  once  a 
tribute  to  their  political  sagacity  as  well  as  a  mark  of 
the  instability  of  the  general  political  alignment  in  the 



For  ten  years  after  1904,  when  it  reached  its  high 
point,  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  was  obliged  to 
stay  on  the  defensive — on  the  defensive  against  the  "open- 
shop"  employers  and  against  the  courts.  Even  the 
periodic  excursions  into  politics  were  in  substance  de- 
fensive moves.  This  turn  of  events  naturally  tended  to 
detract  from  the  prestige  of  the  type  of  unionism  for 
which  Gompers  was  spokesman;  and  by  contrast  raised 
the  stock  of  the  radical  opposition. 

The  opposition  developed  both  in  and  outside  the  Feder- 
tion.  Inside  it  was  the  socialist  "industrialist"  who  ad- 
vocated a  political  labor  party  on  a  socialist  platform, 
such  as  the  Federation  had  rejected  when  it  defeated  the 
"program"  of  1893,1  together  with  a  plan  of  organiza- 
tion by  industry  instead  of  by  craft.  Outside  the  Feder- 
ation the  opposition  marched  under  the  flag  of  the  Indus- 
trial Workers  of  the  World,  which  was  launched  by  so- 
cialists but  soon  after  birth  fell  into  the  hands  of 

However,  fully  to  understand  the  issue  between  con- 
servatives and  radicals  in  the  Federation  after  1905,  one 
needs  to  go  back  much  earlier  for  the  "background." 

The  socialist  movement,  after  it  had  unwittingly  as- 
sisted in  the  birth  of  the  opportunistic  trade  unionism  of 

'See  above,  139-141. 



Strasser  and  Gompers,1  did  not  disappear,  but  remained 
throughout  the  eighties  a  handful  of  "intellectuals'*  and 
"intellectualized"  wage  earners,  mainly  Germans.  These 
never  abandoned  the  hope  of  better  things  for  socialism 
in  the  labor  movement.  With  this  end  in  view,  they 
adopted  an  attitude  of  enthusiastic  cooperation  with  the 
Knights  of  Labor  and  the  Federation  in  their  wage 
struggle,  which  they  accompanied,  to  be  sure,  by  a  per- 
sistent though  friendly  "nudging"  in  the  direction  of  so- 
cialism. During  the  greater  part  of  the  eighties  the 
socialists  were  closer  to  the  trade  unionists  than  to  the 
Knights,  because  of  the  larger  proportion  of  foreign 
born,  principally  Germans,  among  them.  The  unions  in 
the  cigar  making,  cabinet  making,  brewing,  and  other 
German  trades  counted  many  socialists,  and  socialists 
were  also  in  the  lead  in  the  city  federations  of  unions  in 
New  York,  Chicago,  Cleveland,  St.  Louis,  Milwaukee,  and 
other  cities.  In  the  campaign  of  Henry  George  for 
Mayor  of  New  York  in  1886,  the  socialists  cooperated 
with  him  and  the  labor  organizations.  When,  however, 
the  campaign  being  over,  they  fell  out  with  George  on 
the  issue  of  the  single  tax,  they  received  more  sympathy 
from  the  trade  unionists  than  George ;  though  one  should 
add  that  the  internal  strife  caused  the  majority  of  the 
trade  unionists  to  lose  interest  in  either  faction  and  in 
the  whole  political  movement.  The  socialist  organization 
went  by  the  name  of  the  Socialist  Labor  party,  which  it 
had  kept  since  1877.  Its  enrolled  membership  was  under 
10,000,  and  its  activities  were  non-political  (since  it  re- 
frained from  nominating  its  own  tickets)  but  entirely  agi- 
tational and  propagandist.  The  socialist  press  was  chiefly 
in  German  and  was  led  by  a  daily  in  New  York.  So  it 
*See  above,  76-79. 


continued  until  there  appeared  on  the  scene  an  imperious 
figure,  one  of  those  men  who,  had  he  lived  in  a  country 
with  conditions  more  favorable  to  socialism  than  the 
United  States,  would  doubtless  have  become  one  of  the 
world's  outstanding  revolutionary  leaders.  This  man 
was  Daniel  DeLeon. 

DeLeon  was  of  South  American  ancestry,  who  early 
immigrated  to  New  York.  For  a  time  he  was  teacher  of 
languages  at  Columbia  College;  later  he  devoted  himself 
thoroughly  to  socialist  propaganda.  He  established  his 
first  connection  with  the  labor  movement  in  the  George 
campaign  in  1886  and  by  1890  we  find  him  in  control  of 
the  socialist  organization.  DeLeon  was  impatient  with 
the  policy  of  slow  permeation  carried  on  by  the  socialists. 
A  convinced  if  not  fanatical  Marxian,  his  philosophy 
taught  him  that  the  American  labor  movement,  like  all 
national  labor  movements,  had,  in  the  nature  of  things, 
to  be  socialist.  He  formed  the  plan  of  a  supreme  and 
last  effort  to  carry  socialism  into  the  hosts  of  the  Knights 
and  the  Federation,  failing  which,  other  and  more  drastic 
means  would  be  used. 

By  1895  he  learned  that  he  was  beaten  in  both  organi- 
zations ;  not,  however,  without  temporarily  upsetting  the 
groups  in  control.  For,  the  only  time  when  Samuel 
Gompers  was  defeated  for  President  of  the  Federation 
was  in  1894,  when  the  socialists,  angered  by  his  part  in 
the  rejection  of  the  socialist  program  at  the  convention,1 
joined  with  his  enemies  and  voted  another  man  into  office. 
Gompers  was  reflected  the  next  year  and  the  Federation 
seemed  definitely  shut  to  socialism.  DeLeon  was  now 
ready  to  go  to  the  limit  with  the  Federation.  If  the  estab- 
lished unions  refused  to  assume  the  part  of  the  grave- 
1  See  above,  139-141. 


diggers  of  capitalism,  designed  for  them,  as  he  believed, 
by  the  very  logic  of  history,  so  much  the  worse  for  the 
established  trade  unions. 

Out  of  this  grew  the  Socialist  Trade  and  Labor  Alli- 
ance as  a  life  and  death  rival  to  the  Federation.  From 
the  standpoint  of  socialism  no  more  unfortunate  step 
could  have  been  taken.  It  immediately  stamped  the  so- 
cialists as  wilful  destroyers  of  the  unity  of  labor.  To 
the  trade  unionists,  yet  fresh  from  the  ordeal  of  the 
struggle  against  the  Knights  of  Labor,  the  action  of  the 
socialists  was  an  unforgivable  crime.  All  the  bitterness 
which  has  characterized  the  fight  between  socialist  and 
anti-socialist  in  the  Federation  verily  goes  back  to  this 
gross  miscalculation  by  DeLeon  of  the  psychology  of  the 
trade  union  movement.  DeLeon,  on  his  part,  attributed 
the  action  of  the  Federation  to  a  hopelessly  corrupt 
leadership  and,  since  he  failed  to  unseat  it  by  working 
from  within,  he  now  felt  justified  in  striking  at  the  entire 

The  Socialist  Trade  and  Labor  Alliance  was  a  failure 
from  the  outset.  Only  a  small  portion  of  even  the  social- 
ist-minded trade  unionists  were  willing  to  join  in  the  ven- 
ture. Many  trade  union  leaders  who  had  been  allied  with 
the  socialists  now  openly  sided  with  Gompers.  In  brief, 
the  socialist  "revolution"  in  the  American  labor  world  suf- 
fered the  fate  of  all  unsuccessful  revolutions :  it  alienated 
the  moderate  sympathizers  and  forced  the  victorious  ma- 
jority into  taking  up  a  more  uncompromising  position 
than  heretofore. 

Finally,  the  hopelessness  of  DeLeon's  tactics  became 
obvious.  One  faction  in  the  Socialist  Labor  party,  which 
had  been  in  opposition  ever  since  he  assumed  command, 
came  out  in  revolt  in  1898.  A  fusion  took  place  between 


it  and  another  socialist  group,  the  so-called  Debs-Berger 
Social  Democracy,1  which  took  the  name  of  the  Social 
Democratic  Party.  Later,  at  a  "Unity  Congress"  in 
1901,  it  became  the  Socialist  Party  of  America.  What 
distinguished  this  party  from  the  Socialist  Labor  party 
(which,  although  it  had  lost  its  primacy  in  the  socialist 
movement,  has  continued  side  by  side  with  the  Socialist 
party  of  America),  was  well  expressed  in  a  resolution 
adopted  at  the  same  "Unity"  convention:  "We  recog- 
nize that  trade  unions  are  by  historical  necessity  organ- 
ized on  neutral  grounds  as  far  as  political  affiliation  is 
concerned."  With  this  program,  the  socialists  have  been 
fairly  successful  in  extending  their  influence  in  the  Amer- 
ican Federation  of  Labor  so  that  at  times  they  have  con- 
trolled about  one-third  of  the  votes  in  the  conventions. 
Nevertheless  the  conservatives  have  never  forgiven  the 
socialists  their  "original  sin."  In  the  country  at  large 
socialism  made  steady  progress  until  1912,  when  nearly 
one  million  votes  were  cast  for  Eugene  V.  Debs,  or 
about  1/16  of  the  total.  After  1912,  particularly  since 
1916,  the  socialist  party  became  involved  in  the  War  and 
the  difficulties  created  by  the  War  and  retrogressed. 

For  a  number  of  years  DeLeon's  failure  kept  possible 
imitators  in  check.  However,  in  1905,  came  another 
attempt  in  the  shape  of  the  Industrial  Workers  of  the 
World.  As  with  its  predecessor,  impatient  socialists 

1  Eugene  V.  Debs,  after  serving  his  sentence  in  prison  for  disobey- 
ing a  court  injunction  during  the  Pullman  strike  of  1894,  became 
a  convert  to  socialism.  It  is  said  that  his  conversion  was  due  to 
Victor  Berger  of  Milwaukee.  Berger  had  succeeded  in  building  up 
a  strong  socialist  party  in  that  city  and  in  the  State  of  Wisconsin 
upon  the  basis  of  a  thorough  understanding  with  the  trade  unions 
and  was  materially  helped  by  the  predominance  of  the  German- 
speaking  element  in  the  population.  In  1910  the  Milwaukee  socialists 
elected  a  municipal  ticket,  the  first  large  city  to  vote  the  socialists 
into  office. 


helped  to  set  it  afoot,  but  unlike  the  Alliance,  it  was  at 
the  same  time  an  outgrowth  of  a  particular  situation  in 
the  actual  labor  movement,  namely,  of  the  bitter  fight 
which  was  being  waged  by  the  Western  Federation  of 
Miners  since  the  middle  nineties. 

Beginning  with  a  violent  clash  between  miners  and  mine 
owners  in  the  silver  region  of  Coeur  d'Alene,  Idaho,  in 
the  early  nineties,  the  mining  States  of  the  West  became 
the  scene  of  many  labor  struggles  which  were  more  like 
civil  wars  than  like  ordinary  labor  strikes. 

A  most  important  contributing  cause  was  a  struggle, 
bolder  than  has  been  encountered  elsewhere  in  the  United 
States,  for  control  of  government  in  the  interest  of 
economic  class.  This  was  partly  due  to  the  absence  of 
a  neutral  middle  class,  farmers  or  others,  who  might 
have  been  able  to  keep  matters  within  bounds. 

The  Western  Federation  of  Miners  was  an  organization 
of  workers  in  and  around  the  metaliferous  mines.  It  also 
included  workers  in  smelters.  It  held  its  first  convention 
in  1893  in  Butte,  Montana.  In  1894*  the  men  employed 
in  the  Cripple  Creek,  Colorado,  gold  fields  demanded  a 
minimum  wage  of  three  dollars  for  an  eight-hour  day. 
After  four  months  the  strike  resulted  in  a  victory  for  the 
union.  Other  strikes  occurred  in  1896  and  1897  at 
Leadville,  in  1899  in  the  Cceur  d'Alene  mining  district, 
and  in  1901  at  Rossland  and  Fernie,  British  Columbia, 
and  also  in  the  San  Juan  district  in  California. 

The  most  important  strike  of  the  Western  Federation 
of  Miners,  however,  began  in  1903  at  Colorado  City, 
where  the  mill  and  smeltermen's  union  quit  work  in  order 
to  compel  better  working  conditions.  As  the  sympathetic 
strike  was  a  recognized  part  of  the  policy  of  the  Western 
Federation  of  Miners,  all  the  miners  in  the  Cripple  Creek 


region  were  called  out.  The  eight-hour  day  in  the  smel- 
ters was  the  chief  issue.  In  1899  the  Colorado  legisla- 
ture had  passed  an  eight-hour  law  which  was  declared 
unconstitutional  by  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State.  To 
overcome  this  difficulty,  an  amendment  to  the  State  con- 
stitution was  passed  in  1902  by  a  large  majority,  but 
the  legislature,  after  having  thus  received  a  direct  com- 
mand to  establish  the  eight-hour  law,  adjourned  without 
taking  action.  Much  of  the  subsequent  disorder  and 
bloodshed  in  the  Cripple  Creek  region  during  1903-1904 
is  traceable  to  this  failure  on  the  part  of  the  legislature 
to  enact  the  eight-hour  law.  The  struggle  in  Colorado 
helped  to  convince  the  Western  miners  that  agreements 
with  their  employers  were  futile,  that  constitutional 
amendments  and  politics  were  futile,  and  from  this  they 
drew  the  conclusion  that  the  revolutionary  way  was  the 
only  way.  William  D.  Haywood,  who  became  the  central 
figure  in  the  revolutionary  movement  of  the  Industrial 
Workers  of  the  World  since  its  launching  in  1905,  was  a 
former  national  officer  of  the  Western  Federation  of 
Miners  and  a  graduate  of  the  Colorado  school  of  in- 
dustrial experience.1 

Even  before  1905  the  Western  Federation  of  Miners, 
which  was  out  of  touch  with  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  for  reasons  of  geography  and  of  difference  in 
policy  and  program,  attempted  to  set  up  a  national  labor 
federation  which  would  reflect  its  spirit.  An  American 
Labor  Union  was  created  in  1902,  which  by  1905  had 
a  membership  of  about  16,000  besides  the  27,000  of  the 

1  In  1907  Haywood  was  tried  and  acquitted  with  two  other  officers 
of  the  Western  Federation  of  Miners  at  Bois6,  Idaho,  on  a  murder 
charge  which  grew  out  of  the  same  labor  struggle.  This  was  one  of 
the  several  sensational  trials  in  American  labor  history,  on  a  par  with 
the  Molly  Maguires'  case  in  the  seventies,  the  Chicago  Anarchists'  in 
1887,  and  the  McNamaras'  case  in  1912. 


miners*  federation.  It  was  thus  the  precursor  of  the 
Industrial  Workers  of  the  World  in  1905.  In  the  latter 
the  revolutionary  miners  from  the  West  joined  hands 
with  radical  socialists  from  the  East  and  Middle  West 
of  both  socialist  parties,  the  Socialist  party  of  America 
and  DeLeon's  Socialist  Labor  party. 

We  shall  forbear  tracing  here  the  complicated  internal 
history  of  the  I.  W.  W.,  that  is  the  friction  which  im- 
mediately arose  between  the  DeLeonites  and  the  other 
socialists  and  later  on  the  struggle  between  the  socialists 
and  the  syndicalist-minded  labor  rebels  from  the  West. 
Suffice  it  to  say  that  the  Western  Federation  of  Miners, 
which  was  its  very  heart  and  body,  convinced  of  the 
futility  of  it  all,  seceded  in  1907.  In  1911  it  joined  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor  and  after  several  hard- 
fought  strikes,  notably  in  Michigan  in  1913,  it  practically 
became  assimilated  to  the  other  unions  in  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor. 

The  remnant  of  the  I.  W.  W.  split  in  1908  into  two 
rival  Industrial  Workers  of  the  World,  with  headquarters 
in  Detroit  and  Chicago,  respectively,  on  the  issue  of 
revolutionary  political  versus  non-political  or  "direct" 
action.  As  a  rival  to  the  Federation  of  Labor  the  I.  W. 
W.  never  materialized,  but  on  the  one  hand,  as  an  in- 
strument of  resistance  by  the  migratory  laborers  of  the 
West  and,  on  the  other  hand,  as  a  prod  to  the  Federation 
to  do  its  duty  to  the  unorganized  and  unskilled  foreign- 
speaking  workers  of  the  East,  the  I.  W.  W.  will  for  long 
have  a  part  to  play. 

In  fact,  about  1912,  it  seemed  as  though  the  I.  W.  W. 
were  about  to  repeat  the  performance  of  the  Knights 
of  Labor  in  the  Great  Upheaval  of  1885-1887.  Its 
clamorous  appearance  in  the  industrial  East,  showing 


in  the  strikes  by  the  non-English-speaking  workers  in  the 
textile  mills  of  Lawrence,  Massachusetts,  Paterson,  New 
Jersey,  and  Little  Falls,  New  York,  on  the  one  hand, 
and  on  the  other,  the  less  tangible  but  no  less  desperate 
strikes  of  casual  laborers  which  occurred  from  time  to 
time  in  the  West,  bore  for  the  observer  a  marked  re- 
semblance to  the  Great  Upheaval.  Furthermore,  the 
trained  eyes  of  the  leaders  of  the  Federation  espied  in 
the  Industrial  Workers  of  the  World  a  new  rival  which 
would  best  be  met  on  its  own  ground  by  organizing  within 
the  Federation  the  very  same  elements  to  which  the  I.  W. 
W.  especially  addressed  itself.  Accordingly,  at  the  con- 
vention of  1912,  held  in  Rochester,  the  problem  of  organ- 
izing the  unskilled  occupied  a  place  near  the  head  of  the 
list.  But  after  the  unsuccessful  Paterson  textile  strikes 
in  1912  and  1913,  the  star  of  the  Industrial  Workers  of 
the  World  set  as  rapidly  as  it  had  risen  and  the  organiza- 
tion rapidly  retrogressed.  At  no  time  did  it  roll  up  a 
membership  of  more  than  60,000  as  compared  with  the 
maximum  membership  of  750,000  of  the  Knights  of  Labor. 
The  charge  made  by  the  I.  W.  W.  against  the  Feder- 
ation of  Labor  (and  it  is  in  relation  to  the  latter  that 
the  I.  W.  W.  has  any  importance  at  all)  is  mainly  two- 
fold :  on  aim  and  on  method.  "Instead  of  the  conservative 
motto,  'A  fair  day's  wage  for  a  fair  day's  work,' " 
reads  the  Preamble,  "We  must  inscribe  on  our  banner 
the  revolutionary  watchword,  'Abolition  of  the  wage  sys- 
tem.* It  is  the  historic  mission  of  the  working  class  to 
do  away  with  capitalism.  The  army  of  production  must 
be  organized,  not  only  for  the  every-day  struggle  with 
capitalists,  but  to  carry  on  production  when  capitalism 
shall  have  been  overthrown."  Then  on  method:  "We 
find  that  the  centering  of  management  in  industries  into 


fewer  and  fewer  hands  makes  the  trade  union  unable  to 
cope  with  the  ever-growing  power  of  the  employing  class. 
The  trade  unions  foster  a  state  of  affairs  which  allows 
one  set  of  the  workers  to  be  pitted  against  another  set  of 
workers  in  the  same  industry,  thereby  helping  to  defeat 
one  another  in  wage  wars.  .  .  .  These  conditions  must 
be  changed  and  the  interest  of  the  working  class  upheld 
only  by  an  organization  founded  in  such  a  way  that  all 
its  members  in  any  one  industry,  or  in  all  industries,  if 
necessary,  cease  work  whenever  a  strike  or  a  lockout  is  in 
any  department  thereof,  thus  making  an  injury  to  one 
an  injury  to  all."  Lastly,  "By  organizing  industrially 
we  are  forming  the  structure  of  the  new  society  within 
the  shell  of  the  old." 

This  meant  "industrialism"  versus  the  craft  autonomy 
of  the  Federation.  "Industrialism"  was  a  product  of  the 
intense  labor  struggles  of  the  nineties,  of  the  Pullman  rail- 
way strike  in  1894,  of  the  general  strike  of  the  bituminous 
miners  of  1898,  and  of  a  decade  long  struggle  and  boy- 
cott in  the  beer-brewing  industry.  Industrialism  meant 
a  united  front  against  the  employers  in  an  industry  re- 
gardless of  craft;  it  meant  doing  away  with  the  paralyz- 
ing disputes  over  jurisdiction  amongst  the  several  craft 
unions ;  it  meant  also  stretching  out  the  hand  of  fellow- 
ship to  the  unskilled  worker  who  knowing  no  craft  fitted 
into  no  craft  union.  But  over  and  above  these  changes 
in  structure  there  hovered  a  new  spirit,  a  spirit  of  class 
struggle  and  of  revolutionary  solidarity  in  contrast  with 
the  spirit  of  "business  unionism"  of  the  typical  craft 
union.  Industrialism  signified  a  challenge  to  the  old 
leadership,  to  the  leadership  of  Gompers  and  his  asso- 
ciates, by  a  younger  generation  of  leaders  who  were  more 
in  tune  with  the  social  ideas  of  the  radical  intellectuals  and 


the  labor  movements  of  Europe  than  with  the  traditional 
policies  of  the  Federation. 

But  there  is  industrialism  and  industrialism,  each  an- 
swering the  demands  of  a  particular  stratum  of  the  wage- 
earning  class.  The  class  lowest  in  the  scale,  the  unskilled 
and  "floaters,"  for  which  the  I.  W.  W.  speaks,  conceives 
industrialism  as  "one  big  union,"  where  not  only  trade 
but  even  industrial  distinctions  are  virtually  ignored  with 
reference  to  action  against  employers,  if  not  also  with 
reference  to  the  principle  of  organization.  The  native 
floater  in  the  West  and  the  unskilled  foreigner  in  the 
East  are  equally  responsive  to  the  appeal  to  storm  capit- 
alism in  a  successive  series  of  revolts  under  the  banner  of 
the  "one  big  union."  Uniting  in  its  ranks  the  workers 
with  the  least  experience  in  organization  and  with  none 
in  political  action,  the  "one  big  union"  pins  its  faith  upon 
assault  rather  than  "armed  peace,"  upon  the  strike  with- 
out the  trade  agreement,  and  has  no  faith  whatsoever  in 
political  or  legislative  action. 

Another  form  of  industrialism  is  that  of  the  middle 
stratum  of  the  wage-earning  group,  embracing  trades 
which  are  moderately  skilled  and  have  had  considerable 
experience  in  organization,  such  as  brewing,  clothing,  and 
mining.  They  realize  that,  in  order  to  attain  an  equal 
footing  with  the  employers,  they  must  present  a  front 
coextensive  with  the  employers'  association,  which  means 
that  all  trades  in  an  industry  must  act  under  one  direc- 
tion. Hence  they  strive  to  assimilate  the  engineers  and 
machinists,  whose  labor  is  essential  to  the  continuance  of 
the  operation  of  the  plant.  They  thus  reproduce  on  a 
minor  scale  the  attempt  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  during 
the  eighties  to  engulf  the  more  skilled  trade  unions. 

At  the  same  time  the  relatively  unprivileged  position  of 


these  trades  makes  them  keenly  alive  to  the  danger  from 
below,  from  the  unskilled  whom  the  employer  may  break 
into  their  jobs  in  case  of  strikes.  They  therefore  favor 
taking  the  unskilled  into  the  organization.  Their  in- 
dustrialism is  consequently  caused  perhaps  more  by  their 
own  trade  consideration  than  *by  an  altruistic  desire  to 
uplift  the  unskilled,  although  they  realize  that  the  or- 
ganization of  the  unskilled  is  required  by  the  broader  in- 
terests of  the  wage-earning  class.  However,  their  long 
experience  in  matters  of  organization  teaches  them  that 
the  "one  big  union"  would  be  a  poor  medium.  Their  ac- 
cumulated experience  likewise  has  a  moderating  influence 
on  their  economic  activity,  and  they  are  consequently 
among  the  strongest  supporters  inside  the  American  Fed- 
eration of  Labor  of  the  trade  agreement.  Nevertheless, 
opportunistic  though  they  are  in  the  industrial  field, 
their  position  is  not  sufficiently  raised  above  the  unskilled 
to  make  them  satisfied  with  the  wage  system.  Hence,  they 
are  mostly  controlled  by  socialists  and  are  strongly  in 
favor  of  political  action  through  the  Socialist  party. 
This  form  of  industrialism  may  consequently  be  called 
"socialist  industrialism."  In  the  annual  conventions  of 
the  Federation,  industrialists  are  practically  synonymous 
with  socialists. 

The  best  examples  of  the  "middle  stratum"  industrial- 
ism are  the  unions  in  the  garment  industries.  Enthusi- 
astic admirers  have  proclaimed  them  the  harbingers  of 
a  "new  unionism"  in  America.  One  would  indeed  be 
narrow  to  withhold  praise  from  organizations  and  leaders 
who  in  spite  of  a  most  chaotic  situation  in  their  industry 
have  succeeded  so  brilliantly  where  many  looked  only  for 
failure.  Looking  at  the  matter,  however,  from  the  wider 
standpoint  of  labor  history,  the  contribution  of  this  so- 


called  "new  unionism"  resides  chiefly,  first,  in  that  it  has 
rationalized  and  developed  industrial  government  by  col- 
lective bargaining  and  trade  agreements  as  no  other  union- 
ism, and  second,  in  that  it  has  applied  a  spirit  of  broad- 
minded  all-inclusiveness  to  all  workers  in  -the  industry. 
To  put  it  in  another  way,  its  merit  is  in  that  it  has  made 
supreme  use  of  the  highest  practical  acquisition  of  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor — namely,  the  trade  agree- 
ment— while  reinterpreting  and  applying  the  latter  in 
a  spirit  of  a  broader  labor  solidarity  than  the  "old 
unionism"  of  the  Federation.  As  such  the  clothing 
workers  point  the  way  to  the  rest  of  the  labor  move- 

The  first  successful  application  of  the  "new  unionism" 
in  the  clothing  trades  was  in  1910  by  the  workers  on 
cloaks  and  suits  in  the  International  Ladies'  Garment 
Workers  Union  of  America,  a  constituent  union  of  the 
American  Federation  of  Labor.  They  established  machin- 
ery of  conciliation  from  the  shop  to  the  industry,  which 
in  spite  of  many  tempests  and  serious  crises,  will  probably 
live  on  indefinitely.  Perhaps  the  greatest  achievement  to 
their  credit  is  that  they  have  jointly  with  the  employers, 
through  a  Joint  Board  of  Sanitary  Control,  wrought  a 
revolution  in  the  hygienic  conditions  in  the  shops. 

The  Amalgamated  Clothing  Workers  of  America  have 
won  great  power  in  the  men's  clothing  industry,  through 
aggressive  but  constructive  leadership.  The  nucleus  of 
the  union  seceded  from  the  United  Garment  Workers,  an 
A.  F.  of  L.  organization,  in  1914.  The  socialistic  ele- 
ment within  the  organization  was  and  still  is  numerically 
dominating.  But  in  the  practical  process  of  collective 
bargaining,  this  union's  revolutionary  principles  have 
served  more  as  a  bond  to  hold  the  membership  together 


than  as  a  severe  guide  in  its  relations  with  the  employers.1 
As  a  result,  the  Amalgamated  Clothing  Workers  attained 
trade  agreements  in  all  the  large  men's  clothing  centers. 
The  American  Federation  of  Labor,  however,  in  spite  of 
this  union's  success,  has  persistently  refused  to  admit  it 
to  affiliation,  on  account  of  its  original  secessionist  origin 
from  a  chartered  international  union. 

The  unions  of  the  clothing  workers  have  demonstrated 
how  immigrants  (the  majority  in  the  industry  are  Rus- 
sian and  Polish  Jews  and  Italians)  may  be  successfully 
organized  on  the  basis  of  a  broad  minded  industrialism. 
On  the  issue  of  industrialism  in  the  American  Federation 
of  Labor  the  last  word  has  not  yet  been  said.  It  appears, 
though,  that  the  matter  is  being  solved  slowly  but  surely 
by  a  silent  "counter-reformation"  by  the  old  leaders.  For 
industrialism,  or  the  adjustment  of  union  structure  to 
meet  the  employer  with  ranks  closed  on  the  front  of  an 
entire  industry,  is  not  altogether  new  even  in  the  most 
conservative  portion  of  the  Federation,  although  it  has 
never  been  called  by  that  name. 

Long  before  industrialism  entered  the  national  arena 
as  the  economic'  creed  of  socialists,  the  unions  of  the 
skilled  had  begun  to  evolve  an  industrialism  of  their  own. 
This  species  may  properly  be  termed  craft  industrialism, 
as  it  sought  merely  to  unite  on  an  efficient  basis  the 
fighting  strength  of  the  unions  of  the  skilled  trades  by 
devising  a  method  for  speedy  solution  of  jurisdictional 
disputes  between  overlapping  unions  and  by  reducing  the 
sympathetic  strike  to  a  science.  The  movement  first 
manifested  itself  in  the  early  eighties  in  the  form  of  local 
building  trades'  councils,  which  especially  devoted  them- 

1The  same  applies  to  the  International  Ladies'  Garment  Workers' 


selves  to  sympathetic  strikes.  This  local  industrialism 
grew,  after  a  fashion,  to  national  dimensions  in  the  form 
of  the  International  Building  Trades'  Council  organized 
in  St.  Louis  in  1897.  The  latter  proved,  however,  inef- 
fective, since,  having  for  its  basic  unit  the  local  building 
trades'  council,  it  inevitably  came  into  conflict  with  the 
national  unions  in  the  building  trades.  For  the  same 
reason  it  was  barred  from  recognition  of  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor.  The  date  of  the  real  birth  of  craft 
industrialism  on  a  national  scale,  was  therefore  deferred 
to  1903,  when  a  Structural  Building  Trades'  Alliance  was 
founded.  The  formation  of  the  Alliance  marks  an  event 
of  supreme  importance,  not  only  because  it  united  for  the 
first  time  for  common  action  all  the  important  national 
unions  in  the  building  industry,  but  especially  because  it 
promulgated  a  new  principle  which,  if  generally  adopted, 
was  apparently  destined  to  revolutionize  the  structure 
of  American  labor  organizations.  The  Alliance  purported 
to  be  a  federation  of  the  "basic"  trades  in  the  industry, 
and  in  reality  it  did  represent  an  entente  of  the  big  and 
aggressive  unions.  The  latter  were  moved  to  federate 
not  only  for  the  purpose  of  forcing  the  struggle  against 
the  employers,  but  also  of  expanding  at  the  expense  of  the 
"non-basic"  or  weak  unions,  besides  seeking  to  annihilate 
the  last  vestiges  of  the  International  Building  Trades* 
Council.  The  Brotherhood  of  Carpenters  and  Joiners, 
probably  the  most  aggressive  union  in  the  American  Fed- 
eration of  Labor,  was  the  leader  in  this  movement.  From 
the  standpoint  of  the  Federation,  the  Structural  Alliance 
was  at  best  an  extra-legal  organization,  as  it  did  not 
receive  the  latter's  formal  sanction,  but  the  Federation 
could  scarcely  afford  to  ignore  it  as  it  had  ignored  the 
International  Building  Trades'  Council.  Thus  in  1908 


the  Alliance  was  "legitimatized"  and  made  a  "Depart- 
ment" of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor,  under  the 
name  of  the  Building  Trades'  Department,  with  the  settle- 
ment of  jurisdictional  disputes  as  its  main  function.  It 
was  accompanied  by  departments  of  metal  trades,  of  rail- 
way employes,  of  miners,  and  by  a  "label"  department. 

It  is  not,  however,  open  to  much  doubt  that  the  Depart- 
ment was  not  a  very  successful  custodian  of  the  trade 
autonomy  principle.  Jurisdictional  disputes  are  caused 
either  by  technical  changes,  which  play  havoc  with  of- 
ficial "jurisdiction,"  or  else  by  a  plain  desire  on  the  part 
of  the  stronger  union  to  encroach  upon  the  province  of 
the  weaker  one.  When  the  former  was  the  case  and  the 
struggle  happened  to  be  between  unions  of  equal  strength 
and  influence,  it  generally  terminated  in  a  compromise. 
When,  however,  the  combatants  were  two  unions  of  un- 
equal strength,  the  doctrine  of  the  supremacy  of  the 
"basic"  unions  was  generally  made  to  prevail  in  the  end. 
Such  was  the  outcome  of  the  struggle  between  the  carpen- 
ters and  joiners  on  the  one  side  and  the  wood  workers  on 
the  other  and  also  between  the  plumbers  and  steam  fitters. 
In  each  case  it  ended  in  the  forced  amalgamation  of  the 
weaker  union  with  the  stronger  one,  upon  the  principle 
that  there  must  be  only  one  union  in  each  "basic"  trade. 
In  the  case  of  the  steam  fitters,  which  was  settled  at  the 
convention  at  Rochester  in  1912,  the  Federation  gave 
what  might  be  interpreted  as  an  official  sanction  of  the 
new  doctrine  of  one  union  in  a  "basic"  trade. 

Notwithstanding  these  official  lapses  from  the  principle 
of  craft  autonomy,  the  socialist  industrialists  1  are  still 
compelled  to  abide  by  the  letter  and  the  spirit  of  craft 
autonomy.  The  effect  of  such  a  policy  on  the  coming 

1  Except  the  miners,  brewers,  and  garment  workers. 


American  industrialism  may  be  as  follows :  The  future 
development  of  the  "department"  may  enable  the  strong 
"basic"  unions  to  undertake  concerted  action  against 
employers,  while  each  retains  its  own  autonomy.  Such 
indeed  is  the  notable  "concerted  movement"  of  the  rail- 
way brotherhoods,  which  since  1907  has  begun  to  set  a 
type  for  craft  industrialism.  It  is  also  probable  that 
the  majority  of  the  craft  unions  will  sufficiently  depart 
from  a  rigid  craft  standard  for  membership  to  include 
helpers  and  unskilled  workers  working  alongside  the 

The  clearest  outcome  of  this  silent  "counter-reforma- 
tion" in  reply  to  the  socialist  industrialists  is  the  Rail- 
way Employes'  Department  as  it  developed  during  and 
after  the  war-time  period.1  It  is  composed  of  all  the  rail- 
way men's  organizations  except  the  brotherhoods  of  engi- 
neers, firemen,  conductors,  trainmen,  telegraphers,  and 
several  minor  organizations,  which  on  the  whole  cooper- 
ate with  the  Department.  It  also  has  a  place  for  the 
unskilled  laborers  organized  in  the  United  Brotherhood 
of  Maintenance  of  Way  Employes  and  Railroad  Shop 
Laborers.  The  Railway  Employes'  Department  there- 
fore demonstrates  that  under  craft  unionism  the  unskilled 
need  not  be  left  out  in  the  cold.  It  also  meets  the  charge 
that  craft  unionism  renders  it  easy  for  the  employers 
to  defeat  the  unions  one  by  one,  since  this  Department  has 
consolidated  the  constituent  crafts  into  one  bargaining 
and  striking  union  2  practically  as  well  as  could  be  done 
by  an  industrial  union.  Finally,  the  Railway  Employes' 
Department  has  an  advantage  over  an  industrial  union 
in  that  many  of  its  constituent  unions,  like  the  machinists', 

1  See  above,  185-186. 

'This  refers  particularly  to  the  six  shopmen's  unions. 


blacksmiths*,  boilermakers',  sheet  metal  workers',  and 
electrical  workers',  have  large  memberships  outside  the 
railway  industry,  which  might  by  their  dues  and  assess- 
ments come  to  the  aid  of  the  railway  workers  on  strike. 
To  be  sure,  the  solidarity  of  the  unions  in  the  Department 
might  be  weakened  through  jurisdictional  disputes,  which 
is  something  to  be  considered.  However,  when  unions 
have  gone  so  far  as  to  confederate  for  joint  collective 
bargaining,  that  danger  will  probably  never  be  allowed 
to  become  too  serious. 



The  outbreak  of  the  War  in  Europe  in  August  1914 
found  American  labor  passing  through  a  period  of  de- 
pression. The  preceding  winter  had  seen  much  unem- 
ployment and  considerable  distress  and  in  the  summer 
industrial  conditions  became  scarcely  improved.  In  the 
large  cities  demonstrations  by  the  unemployed  were  daily 
occurrences.  A  long  and  bloody  labor  struggle  in  the 
coal  fields  of  Colorado,  which  was  slowly  drawing  to  an 
unsuccessful  end  in  spite  of  sacrifices  of  the  heaviest  kind, 
seemed  only  to  set  into  bold  relief  the  generally  inaus- 
picious outlook.  Yet  the  labor  movement  could  doubtless 
find  solace  in  the  political  situation.  Owing  to  the  sup- 
port it  had  given  the  Democratic  party  in  the  Presiden- 
tial campaign  of  1912,  the  Federation  could  claim  return 
favors.  The  demand  which  it  was  now  urging  upon  its 
friends  in  office  was  the  long  standing  one  for  the  exemp- 
tion of  labor  unions  from  the  operation  of  the  anti-trust 
legislation  and  for  the  reduction  to  a  minimum  of  interfer- 
ence by  Federal  Courts  in  labor  disputes  through  injunc- 
tion proceedings. 

During  1914  the  anti-trust  bill  introduced  in  the  House 
by  Clayton  of  Alabama  was  going  through  the  regular 
stages  preliminary  to  enactment  and,  although  it  finally 
failed  to  embody  all  the  sweeping  changes  demanded  by 
the  Federation's  lobbyists,  it  was  pronounced  at  the  time 
satisfactory  to  labor.  The  Clayton  Act  starts  with  the 



declaration  that  "The  labor  of  a  human  being  is  not  a 
commodity  or  article  of  commerce"  and  specifies  that 
labor  organizations  shall  not  be  construed  as  illegal  com- 
binations or  conspiracies  in  restraint  of  trade  under 
Federal  anti-trust  laws.  It  further  proceeds  to  prescribe 
the  procedure  in  connection  with  the  issuance  of  injunc- 
tions in  labor  disputes  as,  for  instance,  limiting  the  time 
of  effectiveness  of  temporary  injunctions,  making  notice 
obligatory  to  persons  about  to  be  permanently  enjoined, 
and  somewhat  limiting  the  power  of  the  courts  in  con- 
tempt proceedings.  The  most  vital  section  of  the  Act  re- 
lating to  labor  disputes  is  Section  20,  which  says  "that  no 
such  restraining  order  or  injunction  shall  prohibit  any 
person  or  persons,  whether  singly  or  in  concert,  from  ter- 
minating any  relation  of  employment,  or  from  ceasing  to 
perform  any  work  or  labor  or  from  recommending,  ad- 
vising, or  persuading  others  by  peaceful  means  so  to  do ; 
or  from  attending  at  any  place  where  any  such  person 
or  persons  may  lawfully  be,  for  the  purpose  of  peacefully 
persuading  any  person  to  work  or  to  abstain  from  work- 
ing, or  from  recommending,  advising,  or  persuading  others 
by  peaceful  and  lawful  means  so  to  do ;  or  from  paying 
or  giving  to,  or  withholding  from,  any  person  employed 
in  such  dispute,  any  strike  benefits  or  other  moneys  or 
things  of  value ;  or  from  peacefully  assembling  in  a  lawful 
manner,  or  for  lawful  purposes,  or  from  doing  any  act 
or  things  which  might  lawfully  be  done  in  the  absence  of 
such  dispute  by  any  party  thereto ;  nor  shall  any  of  the 
acts  specified  in  this  paragraph  be  considered  or  held 
to  be  violations  of  any  law  of  the  United  States." 

The  government  was  also  rendering  aid  to  organized 
labor  in  another,  though  probably  little  intended,  form, 
namely  through  the  public  hearings  conducted  by  the 


United  States  Commission  on  Industrial  Relations.  This 
Commission  had  been  authorized  by  Congress  in  1912  to 
investigate  labor  unrest  after  a  bomb  explosion  in  the 
Los  Angeles  Times  Building,  which  was  set  off  at  the 
order  of  some  of  the  national  officers  of  the  structural 
iron  workers*  union,  incidental  to  a  strike.  The  hearings 
which  were  conducted  by  the  able  and  versatile  chairman, 
Frank  P.  Walsh,  with  a  particular  eye  for  publicity,  cen- 
tering as  they  did  around  the  Colorado  outrages,  served 
to  popularize  the  trade  union  cause  from  one  end  of  the 
country  to  the  other.  The  report  of  the  Commission  or 
rather  the  minority  report,  which  was  signed  by  the 
chairman  and  the  three  labor  members,  and  was  known  as 
the  "staff"  report,  named  trade  unionism  as  the  para- 
mount remedy — not  compulsory  arbitration  which  was 
advocated  by  the  employer  members,  nor  labor  legislation 
and  a  permanent  governmental  industrial  commission 
proposed  by  the  economist  on  the  commission.  The  im- 
mediate practical  effects  of  the  commission  were  nil,  but 
its  agitational  value  proved  of  great  importance  to  labor. 
For  the  first  time  in  the  history  of  the  United  States  the 
employing  class  seemed  to  be  arrayed  as  a  defendant  be- 
fore the  bar  of  public  opinion.  Also,  it  was  for  the  first 
time  that  a  commission  representing  the  government  not 
only  unhesitatingly  pronounced  the  trade  union  move- 
ment harmless  to  the  country's  best  interests  but  went  to 
the  length  of  raising  it  to  the  dignity  of  a  fundamental 
and  indispensable  institution. 

The  Commission  on  Industrial  Relations  on  the  whole 
reflected  the  favorable  attitude  of  the  Administration 
which  came  to  power  in  1912.  The  American  Federation 
of  Labor  was  given  full  sway  over  the  Department  of 
Labor  and  a  decisive  influence  in  all  other  government 


departments  on  matters  relating  to  labor.  Without  a 
political  party  of  its  own,  by  virtue  only  of  its  "bargain- 
ing power"  over  the  old  parties,  the  American  Federation 
of  Labor  seemed  to  have  attained  a  position  not  far  be- 
hind that  of  British  labor  after  more  than  a  decade  of 
independent  political  action.  Furthermore,  fortunately 
for  itself,  labor  in  America  had  come  into  a  political  patri- 
mony at  a  time  when  the  country  was  standing  on  the 
threshold  of  a  new  era,  during  which  government  was  des- 
tined to  become  the  arbiter  of  industry. 

The  War  in  Europe  did  not  immediately  improve  in- 
dustrial conditions  in  America.  The  first  to  feel  its  effects 
were  the  industries  directly  engaged  in  the  making  of 
munitions.  The  International  Association  of  Machinists, 
the  organization  of  the  now  all-important  munition  work- 
ers, actually  had  its  membership  somewhat  decreased  dur- 
ing 1915,  but  in  the  following  year  made  a  50  per  cent, 
increase.  The  greater  part  of  the  new  membership  came 
from  the  "munitions  towns,"  such  as  Bridgeport,  Con- 
necticut, where,  in  response  to  the  insatiable  demand  from 
the  Allied  nations,  new  enormous  plants  were  erected  dur- 
ing 1915  and  shipment  of  munitions  in  mass  began  early 
the  next  year.  Bridgeport  and  surrounding  towns  be- 
came a  center  of  a  successful  eight-hour  movement,  in 
which  the  women  workers  newly  brought  into  the  industry 
took  the  initiative.  The  Federation  as  a  whole  lost  three 
per  cent,  of  its  membership  in  1915  and  gained  seven  per 
cent,  during  1916. 

On  its  War  policy  the  Federation  took  its  cue  com- 
pletely from  the  national  government.  During  the  greater 
part  of  the  period  of  American  neutrality  its  attitude  was 
that  of  a  shocked  lover  of  peace  who  is  desirous  to  main- 
tain the  strictest  neutrality  if  the  belligerents  will  persist 


in  refusing  to  lend  an  ear  to  reason.  To  prevent  a  repeti- 
tion of  a  similar  catastrophe,  the  Federation  did  the  ob- 
vious thing,  pronouncing  for  open  and  democratized  di- 
plomacy; and  proposed  to  the  several  national  trade 
union  federations  that  an  international  labor  congress 
meet  at  the  close  of  the  war  to  determine  the  conditions 
of  peace.  However,  both  the  British  and  Germans  de- 
clined. The  convention  in  1915  condemned  the  German- 
inspired  propaganda  for  an  embargo  on  shipments  to  all 
belligerents  and  the  fomenting  of  strikes  in  munitions- 
making  plants  by  German  agents.  The  Federation  re- 
fused to  interpret  neutrality  to  mean  that  the  American 
wage  earner  was  to  be  thrown  back  into  the  dumps  of 
depression  and  unemployment,  from  which  he  was  just 
delivered  by  the  extensive  war  orders  from  the  Allied 

By  the  second  half  of  1916  the  war  prosperity  was  in 
full  swing.  Cost  of  living  was  rising  rapidly  and  move- 
ments for  higher  wages  became  general.  The  practical 
stoppage  of  immigration  enabled  common  labor  to  get  a 
larger  share  than  usual  of  the  prosperity.  Many  em- 
ployers granted  increases  voluntarily.  Simultaneously, 
a  movement  for  the  eight-hour  day  was  spreading  from 
strictly  munitions-making  trades  into  others  and  was 
meeting  with  remarkable  success.  But  1916  witnessed 
what  was  doubtless  the  most  spectacular  move  for  the 
eight-hour  day  in  American  history — the  joint  eight-hour 
demand  by  the  four  railway  brotherhoods,  the  engineers, 
firemen,  conductors,  and  trainmen.  The  effectiveness 
acquired  by  trade  unionism  needs  no  better  proof  than  the 
remarkable  success  with  which  these  four  organizations, 
with  the  full  support  of  the  whole  labor  movement  at  their 
back  and  aided  by  a  not  unfriendly  attitude  on  the  part 


of  the  national  Administration,  brought  to  bay  the  great- 
est single  industry  of  the  country  and  overcame  the  oppo- 
sition of  the  entire  business  class. 

The  four  brotherhoods  made  a  joint  demand  for  an 
eight-hour  day  early  in  1916.1  The  railway  officials 
claimed  that  the  demand  for  the  reduction  of  the  work-day 
from  ten  to  eight  hours  with  ten  hours'  pay  and  a  time  and 
a  half  rate  for  overtime  was  not  made  in  good  faith. 
Since,  they  said,  the  employes  ought  to  have  known  that 
the  railways  could  not  be  run  on  an  eight-hour  day,  the 
demand  was  but  a  covert  attempt  to  gain  a  substantial 
increase  in  their  wages,  which  were  already  in  advance 
of  any  of  the  other  skilled  workers.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  brotherhoods  stoutly  maintained  during  their  direct 
negotiations  with  the  railway  companies  and  in  the  public 
press  that  their  demand  was  a  bona  fide  demand  and  that 
they  believed  that  the  railway  business  did  admit  of  a 
reorganization  substantially  on  an  eight-hour  basis.  The 
railway  officials  offered  to  submit  to  arbitration  the  de- 
mand of  the  men  together  with  counter  demands  of  their 
own.  The  brotherhoods,  however,  fearing  prejudice  and 
recalling  to  mindi  past  disappointments,  declined  the 
proposal  and  threatened  to  tie  up  the  whole  transporta- 
tion system  of  the  country  by  a  strike  on  Labor  Day. 

When  the  efforts  at  mediation  by  the  United  States 
Board  of  Mediation  and  Conciliation  came  to  naught, 
President  Wilson  invited  to  Washington  the  executives 
of  the  several  railway  systems  and  a  convention  of  the 
several  hundred  division  chairmen  of  the  brotherhoods 
and  attempted  personal  mediation.  He  urged  the  rail- 
way executives  to  accept  the  eight-hour  day  and  pro- 

*For  the  developments  which  led  up  to  this  joint  move  see  above, 


posed  that  a  commission  appointed  by  himself  should  in- 
vestigate the  demand  for  time  and  a  half  for  overtime. 
This  the  employes  accepted,  but  the  executives  objected 
to  giving  the  eight-hour  day  before  an  investigation  was 
made.  Meantime  the  brotherhoods  had  issued  their  strike 
order  effective  on  Labor  Day  and  the  crisis  became  im- 
minent. To  obviate  the  calamity  of  a  general  strike,  at 
a  time  when  the  country  was  threatened  with  troubles  on 
the  Mexican  frontier  and  with  the  unsettled  submarine 
controversy  with  Germany  ready  to  flare  up  any  mo- 
ment, the  President  went  before  Congress  and  asked  for  a 
speedy  enactment  of  an  eight-hour  law  for  train  oper- 
atives without  a  reduction  in  wages  but  with  no  punitive 
overtime.  He  coupled  it  with  a  request  for  an  authoriza- 
tion of  a  special  commission  to  report  on  the  operation  of 
such  law  for  a  period  of  six  months,  after  which  the 
subject  might  be  reopened.  Lastly,  he  urged  an  amend- 
ment to  the  Newlands  Act  making  it  illegal  to  call  a  strike 
or  a  lockout  pending  an  investigation  of  a  controversy 
by  a  government  commission.  Spurred  on  by  the  danger 
of  the  impending  strike,  Congress  quickly  acceded  to  the 
first  two  requests  by  the  President  and  passed  the  so- 
called  Adamson  law.1  The  strike  was  averted,  but  in  the 
immediately  following  Presidential  campaign  labor's 
"hold-up"  of  the  national  government  became  one  of  the 
trump  issues  of  the  Republican  candidate. 

This  episode  of  the  summer  of  1916  had  two  sequels, 
one  in  the  courts  and  the  other  one  in  a  negotiated  agree- 
ment between  the  railways  and  the  brotherhoods.  The 
former  brought  many  suits  in  courts  against  the  govern- 

1  Congress  ignored  the  last-named  recommendation  which  would 
have  introduced  in  the  United  States  the  Canadian  system  of  "Com- 
pulsory Investigation." 


ment  and  obtained  from  a  lower  court  a  decision  that  the 
Adamson  law  was  unconstitutional.  The  case  was  then 
taken  to  the  United  States  Supreme  Court,  but  the  deci- 
sion was  not  ready  until  the  spring  of  1917.  Meantime 
the  danger  of  a  strike  had  been  renewed.  However,  on 
the  same  day  when  the  Supreme  Court  gave  out  its  deci- 
sion, the  railways  and  brotherhoods  had  signed,  at  the 
urging  of  the  National  Council  of  Defense,  an  agree- 
ment accepting  the  conditions  of  the  Adamson  law  re- 
gardless of  the  outcome  in  court.  When  the  decision  be- 
came known  it  was  found  to  be  in  favor  of  the  Adamson 
law.  The  declaration  of  war  against  Germany  came  a 
few  days  later  and  opened  a  new  era  in  the  American  labor 

Previous  to  that,  on  March  12,  1917,  when  war  seemed 
inevitable,  the  national  officers  of  all  important  unions 
in  the  Federation  met  in  Washington  and  issued  a  state- 
ment on  "American  Labor's  Position  in  Peace  or  in  War." 
They  pledged  the  labor  movement  and  the  influence  of  the 
labor  organizations  unreservedly  in  support  of  the  gov- 
ernment in  case  of  war.  Whereas,  they  said,  in  all  previ- 
ous wars  "under  the  guise  of  national  necessity,  labor  was 
stripped  of  its  means  of  defense  against  enemies  at  home 
and  was  robbed  of  the  advantages,  the  protections,  and 
guarantees  of  justice  that  had  been  achieved  after  ages 
of  struggle";  and  "labor  had  no  representatives  in  the 
councils  authorized  to  deal  with  the  conduct  of  the  war" ; 
and  therefore  "the  rights,  interests  and  welfare  of  work- 
ers were  autocratically  sacrificed  for  the  slogan  of  na- 
tional safety";  in  this  war  "the  government  must  recog- 
nize the  organized  labor  movement  as  the  agency  through 
which  it  must  cooperate  with  wage  earners."  Such  recog- 
nition will  imply  first  "representation  on  all  agencies  de- 


termining  and  administering  policies  of  national  defense" 
and  "on  all  boards  authorized  to  control  publicity  during 
war  time."  Second,  that  "service  in  government  fac- 
tories and  private  establishments,  in  transportation  agen- 
cies, all  should  conform  to  trade  union  standards";  and 
that  "whatever  changes  in  the  organization  of  industry  are 
necessary  upon  a  war  basis,  they  should  be  made  in  ac- 
cord with  plans  agreed  upon  by  representatives  of  the 
government  and  those  engaged  and  employed  in  the  indus- 
try." Third,  that  the  government's  demand  of  sacrifice 
of  their  "labor  power,  their  bodies  or  their  lives"  be  ac- 
companied by  "increased  guarantees  and  safe-guards," 
the  imposing  of  a  similar  burden  on  property  and  the 
limitation  of  profits.  Fourth,  that  "organization  for  in- 
dustrial and  commercial  service"  be  "upon  a  different 
basis  from  military  service"  and  "that  military  service 
should  be  carefully  distinguished  from  service  in  indus- 
trial disputes,"  since  "the  same  voluntary  institutions 
that  organized  industrial,  commercial  and  transportation 
workers  in  times  of  peace  will  best  take  care  of  the  same 
problems  in  time  of  war."  For,  "wrapped  up  with  the 
safety  of  this  Republic  are  ideals  of  democracy,  a  heritage 
which  the  masses  of  the  people  received  from  our  fore- 
fathers, who  fought  that  liberty  might  live  in  this  country 
— a  heritage  that  is  to  be  maintained  and  handed  down  to 
each  generation  with  undiminished  power  and  usefulness." 
We  quote  at  such  length  because  this  document  gives 
the  quintessence  of  the  wise  labor  statesmanship  which 
this  crisis  brought  so  clearly  to  light.  Turning  away  from 
the  pacifism  of  the  Socialist  party,  Samuel  Gompers  and 
his  associates  believed  that  victory  over  world  militarism 
as  well  as  over  the  forces  of  reaction  at  home  depended 
on  labor's  unequivocal  support  of  the  government.  And 


in  reality,  by  placing  the  labor  movement  in  the  service 
of  the  war-making  power  of  the  nation  they  assured  for 
it,  for  the  time  being  at  least,  a  degree  of  national  pres- 
tige and  a  freedom  to  expand  which  could  not  have  been 
conquered  by  many  years  of  the  most  persistent  agitation 
and  strikes. 

The  War,  thus,  far  from  being  a  trial  for  organized 
labor,  proved  instead  a  great  opportunity.  For  the  War 
released  organized  labor  from  a  blind  alley,  as  it  were. 
The  American  Federation  of  Labor,  as  we  saw,  had  made 
but  slow  progress  in  organization  after  1905.  At  that 
time  it  had  succeeded  in  organizing  the  skilled  and  some 
of  the  semi-skilled  workers.  Further  progress  was  im- 
peded by  the  anti-union  employers  especially  in  indus- 
tries commonly  understood  to  be  dominated  by  "trusts." 
In  none  of  the  "trustified"  industries,  save  anthracite 
coal,  was  labor  organization  able  to  make  any  headway. 
And  yet  the  American  Federation  of  Labor,  situated  as 
it  is,  is  obliged  to  stake  everything  upon  the  power  to 
organize.1  The  war  gave  it  that  all-important  power. 
Soon  after  the  Federal  government  became  the  arbiter  of 
industry — by  virtue  of  being  the  greatest  consumer,  and 
by  virtue  of  a  public  opinion  clearly  outspoken  on  the 
subject — we  see  the  Taft-Walsh  War  Labor  Board 2 
embody  "the  right  to  organize"  into  a  code  of  rules  for 
the  guidance  of  the  relations  of  labor  and  capital  during 
War-time,  along  with  the  basic  eight-hour  day  and  the 
right  to  a  living  wage.  In  return  for  these  gifts  American 
labor  gave  up  nothing  so  vital  as  British  labor  had  done 
in  the  identical  situation.  The  right  to  strike  was  left 
unmolested  and  remained  a  permanent  threat  hanging 

'See  below,  283-287. 
'See  below,  238-240. 


over  slow  moving  officialdom  and  recalcitrant  employers. 
And  the  only  restraint  accepted  by  labor  was  a  promise 
of  self-restraint.  The  Federation  was  not  to  strike  until 
all  other  means  for  settlement  had  been  tried,  nor  was  it 
to  press  for  the  closed  shop  where  such  had  not  existed 
prior  to  the  War  declaration.  But  at  the  same  time  no 
employer  was  to  interpose  a  check  to  its  expansion  into 
industries  and  districts  heretofore  unorganized.  Nor 
could  an  employer  discipline  an  employe  for  joining  a 
union  or  inducing  others  to  join. 

In  1916,  when  the  President  established  the  National 
Council  of  Defense,  he  appointed  Samuel  Gompers  one 
of  the  seven  members  composing  the  Advisory  Commission 
in  charge  of  all  policies  dealing  with  labor  and  chairman 
of  a  committee  on  labor  of  his  own  appointment.  Among 
the  first  acts  of  the  Council  of  Defense  was  an  emphatic 
declaration  for  the  preservation  of  the  standards  of  legal 
protection  of  labor  against  the  ill-advised  efforts  for 
their  suspension  during  War-time.  The  Federation  was 
given  representation  on  the  Emergency  Construction 
Board,  the  Fuel  Administration  Board,  on  the  Woman's 
Board,  on  the  Food  Administration  Board,  and  finally  on 
the  War  Industries  Board.  The  last  named  board  was 
during  the  war  the  recognized  arbiter  of  the  country's 
industries,  all  labor  matters  being  handled  by  its  labor 
representative.  The  Department  of  Labor,  which  in  the 
War  emergency  could  rightly  be  considered  the  Federa- 
tion's arm  in  the  Administration,  was  placed  in  supreme 
charge  of  general  labor  administration.  Also,  in  connec- 
tion with  the  administration  of  the  military  conscription 
law,  organized  labor  was  given  representation  on  each 
District  Exemption  Board.  But  perhaps  the  strongest 
expression  of  the  official  recognition  of  the  labor  move- 


ment  was  offered  by  President  Wilson  when  he  took  time 
from  the  pressing  business  in  Washington  to  journey  to 
Buffalo  in  November  1917,  to  deliver  an  address  before 
the  convention  of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor. 

In  addition  to  representation  on  boards  and  commis- 
sions dealing  with  general  policies,  the  government  en- 
tered with  the  Federation  into  a  number  of  agreements 
relative  to  the  conditions  of  direct  and  indirect  employ- 
ment by  the  government.  In  each  agreement  the  preva- 
lent trade  union  standards  were  fully  accepted  and  pro- 
vision was  made  for  a  three-cornered  board  of  adjustment 
to  consist  of  a  representative  of  the  particular  govern- 
ment department,  the  public  and  labor.  Such  agreements 
were  concluded  by  the  War  and  Navy  departments  and 
by  the  United  States  Emergency  Fleet  Corporation.  The 
Shipping  Board  sponsored  a  similar  agreement  between 
the  shipping  companies  and  the  seafaring  unions ;  and  the 
War  Department  between  the  leather  goods  manufac- 
turers and  leather  workers'  union.  When  the  government 
took  over  the  railways  on  January  1,  1918,  it  created 
three  boards  of  adjustment  on  the  identical  principle  of 
a  full  recognition  of  labor  organizations.  The  spirit  with 
which  the  government  faced  the  labor  problem  was  shown 
also  in  connection  with  the  enforcement  of  the  eight- 
hour  law.  The 'law  of  1912  provided  for  an  eight-hour 
day  on  contract  government  work  but  allowed  exceptions 
in  emergencies.  In  1917  Congress  gave  the  President 
the  right  to  waive  the  application  of  the  law,  but  provided 
that  in  such  event  compensation  be  computed  on  a  "basic" 
eight-hour  day.  The  War  and  Navy  departments  en- 
forced these  provisions  not  only  to  the  letter  but  generally 
gave  to  them  a  most  liberal  interpretation. 

The  taking  over  of  the  railways  by  the  government 


revolutionized  the  railway  labor  situation.  Under  private 
management,  as  was  seen,  the  four  brotherhoods  alone,  the 
engineers,  firemen,  conductors,  and  trainmen  enjoyed  uni- 
versal recognition,  the  basic  eight-hour  day  (since  1916), 
and  high  wages.  The  other  organizations  of  the  railway 
workers,  the  shopmen,  the  yardmen,  the  maintenance  of 
way  men,  the  clerks,  and  the  telegraphers  were,  at  best, 
tolerated  rather  than  recognized.  Under  the  government 
administration  the  eight-hour  day  was  extended  to  all 
grades  of  workers,  and  wages  were  brought  up  to  a  mini- 
mum of  68  cents  per  hour,  with  a  considerable  though  not 
corresponding  increase  in  the  wages  of  the  higher  grades 
of  labor.  All  discrimination  against  union  men  was  done 
away  with,  so  that  within  a  year  labor  organization  on 
the  railways  was  nearing  the  hundred  per  cent.  mark. 

The  policies  of  the  national  railway  administration  of 
the  open  door  to  trade  unionism  and  of  recognition  of 
union  standards  were  successfully  pressed  upon  other  em- 
ployments by  the  National  War  Labor  Board.  On  March 
29,  1918,  a  National  War  Labor  Conference  Board,  com- 
posed of  five  representatives  of  the  Federation  of  Labor, 
five  representatives  of  employers*  associations  and  two 
joint  chairmen,  William  H.  Taft  for  the  employers  and 
Frank  P.  Walsh  for  the  employes,  reported  to  the  Secre- 
tary of  Labor  on  "Principles  and  Policies  to  govern  Re- 
lations between  Workers  and  Employers  in  War  In- 
dustries for  the  Duration  of  the  War."  These  "prin- 
ciples and  policies,"  which  were  to  be  enforced  by  a  per- 
manent War  Labor  Board  organized  upon  the  identical 
principle  as  the  reporting  board,  included  a  voluntary 
relinquishment  of  the  right  to  strike  and  lockout  by 
employes  and  employers,  respectively,  upon  the  follow- 
ing conditions :  First,  there  was  a  recognition  of  the  equal 


right  of  employes  and  employers  to  organize  into  associ- 
ations and  trade  unions  and  to  bargain  collectively.  This 
carried  an  undertaking  by  the  employers  not  to  discharge 
workers  for. membership  in  trade  unions  or  for  legitimate 
trade  union  activities,  and  was  balanced  by  an  undertak- 
ing of  the  workers,  "in  the  exercise  of  their  right  to  organ- 
ize," not  to  "use  coercive  measures  of  any  kind  to  induce 
persons  to  join  their  organizations,  nor  to  induce  employ- 
ers to  bargain  or  deal  therewith."  Second,  both  sides 
agreed  upon  the  observance  of  the  status  quo  ante  bellum 
as  to  union  or  open  shop  in  a  given  establishment  and  as 
to  union  standards  of  wages,  hours,  and  other  conditions 
of  employment.  This  carried  the  express  stipulation  that 
the  right  to  organize  was  not  to  be  curtailed  under  any 
condition  and  that  the  War  Labor  Board  could  grant 
improvement  in  labor  conditions  as  the  situation  war- 
ranted. Third,  the  understanding  was  that  if  women 
should  be  brought  into  industry,  they  must  be  allowed 
equal  pay  for  equal  work.  Fourth,  it  was  agreed  that 
"the  basic  eight-hour  day  was  to  be  recognized  as  apply- 
ing in  all  cases  in  which  the  existing  law  required  it, 
while  in  all  other  cases  the  question  of  hours  of  labor  was 
to  be  settled  with  due  regard  to  government  necessities 
and  the  welfare,  health,  and  proper  comfort  of  the  work- 
ers." Fifth,  restriction  of  output  by  trade  unions  was  to 
be  done  away  with.  Sixth,  in  fixing  wages  and  other 
conditions  regard  was  to  be  shown  to  trade  union  stand- 
ards. And  lastly  came  the  recognition  of  "the  right  of  all 
workers,  including  common  laborers,  to  a  living  wage" 
and  the  stipulation  that  in  fixing  wages,  there  will  be 
established  "minimum  rates  of  pay  which  will  insure  the 
subsistence  of  the  worker  and  his  family  in  health  and 
reasonable  comfort." 


The  establishment  of  the  War  Labor  Board  did  not 
mean  that  the  country  had  gone  over  to  the  principle 
of  compulsory  arbitration,  for  the  Board  could  not 
force  any  party  to  a  dispute  to  submit  to  its  arbitra- 
tion or  by  an  umpire  of  its  appointment.  However, 
so  outspoken  was  public  opinion  on  the  necessity  of  avoid- 
ing interruptions  in  the  War  industries  and  so  far-reach- 
ing were  the  powers  of  the  government  over  the  employer 
as  the  administrator  of  material  and  labor  priorities  and 
over  the  employes  as  the  administrator  of  the  conscrip- 
tion law  that  the  indirect  powers  of  the  Board  sufficed 
to  make  its  decision  prevail  in  nearly  every  instance. 

The  packing  industry  was  a  conspicuous  case  of  the 
"new  course"  in  industrial  relations.  This  industry  had 
successfully  kept  unionism  out  since  an  ill-considered 
strike  in  1904,  which  ended  disastrously  for  the  strikers. 
Late  in  1917,  60,000  employes  in  the  packing  houses  went 
on  strike  for  union  recognition,  the  basic  eight-hour  day, 
and  other  demands.  Intervention  by  the  government  led 
to  a  settlement,  which,  although  denying  the  union  formal 
recognition,  granted  the  basic  eight-hour  day,  a  living 
wage,  and  the  right  to  organize,  together  with  all  that  it 
implied,  and  the  appointment  of  a  permanent  arbitrator 
to  adjudicate  disputes.  Thus  an  industry  which  had  pro- 
hibited labor  organization  for  fourteen  years  was  made  to 
open  its  door  to  trade  unionism.1  Another  telling  gain 
for  the  basic  eight-hour  day  was  made  by  the  timber 
workers  in  the  Northwest,  again  at  the  insistence  of  the 

What  the  aid  of  the  government  in  securing  the  right 
to  organize  meant  to  the  strength  of  trade  unionism  may 

irThe  unions  again  lost  their  hold  upon  the  packing  industry  in 
the  autumn  of  1921. 


be  derived  from  the  following  figures.  In  the  two  years 
from  1917  to  1919  the  organization  of  the  meat  cutters 
and  butcher  workmen  increased  its  membership  from  less 
than  10,000  to  over  66,000;  the  boilermakers  and  iron 
shipbuilders  from  31,000  to  85,000;  the  blacksmiths  from 
12,000  to  28,000 ;  the  railway  clerks  from  less  than  7000 
to  over  71,000;  the  machinists  from  112,000  to  255,000; 
the  maintenance  of  way  employes  from  less  than  10,000 
to  54,000;  the  railway  carmen  from  39,000  to  100,000; 
the  railway  telegraphers  from  27,000  to  45,000;  and 
the  electrical  workers  from  42,000  to  131,000.  The 
trades  here  enumerated — mostly  related  to  shipbuilding 
and  railways — accounted  for  the  greater  part  of  the  total 
gain  in  the  membership  of  the  Federation  from  two  and  a 
half  million  members  in  1917  to  over  three  and  a  third 
in  1919. 

An  important  aspect  of  the  cooperation  of  the  govern- 
ment with  the  Federation  was  the  latter's  eager  self-iden- 
tification with  the  government's  foreign  policy,  which  went 
to  the  length  of  choosing  to  play  a  lone  hand  in  the 
Allied  labor  world.  Labor  in  America  had  an  implicit 
faith  in  the  national  government,  which  was  shared  by 
neither  English  nor  French  labor.  Whereas  the  workers 
in  the  other  Allied  Nations  believed  that  their  govern- 
ments needed  to  be  prodded  or  forced  into  accepting 
the  right  road  to  a  democratic  peace  by  an  international 
labor  congress,  which  would  take  the  entire  matter  of 
war  and  peace  out  of  the  diplomatic  chancellories  into 
an  open  conference  of  the  representatives  of  the  workers, 
the  American  workers  were  only  too  eager  to  follow  the 
leadership  of  the  head  of  the  American  nation.  To  this 
doubtless  was  added  the  usual  fervor  of  a  new  convert 
to  any  cause  (in  this  instance  the  cause  of  the  War 


against  Germany)  and  a  strong  distrust  of  German  so- 
cialism, which  American  labor  leaders  have  developed  dur- 
ing their  drawn-out  struggle  against  the  German-trained 
socialists  inside  the  Federation  who  have  persistently 
tried  to  "capture"  the  organization. 

When  on  January  8,  1918,  President  Wilson  enunciated 
his  famous  Fourteen  Points,  the  Federation  of  course  gave 
them  an  enthusiastic  endorsement.  In  the  autumn  of 
1918  Gompers  went  to  Europe  and  participated  in  an 
Inter-Allied  labor  conference.  He  refused,  however,  to 
participate  in  the  first  International  Labor  and  Socialist 
Congress  called  since  the  War,  which  met  at  Berne,  Switz- 
erland, in  March  1919,  since  he  would  not  sit  with  the 
Germans  while  their  country  was  not  formally  at  peace 
with  the  United  States.  The  convention  of  the  Feder- 
ation in  June  1919  gave  complete  endorsement  to  the 
League  of  Nations  Pact  worked  out  at  Versailles, — on 
general  grounds  and  on  the  ground  of  its  specific  provi- 
sions for  an  international  regulation  of  labor  conditions 
designed  to  equalize  labor  standards  and  costs.  Contrast- 
ing with  this  was  the  position  of  British  labor,  which 
regarded  the  Pact  with  a  critical  eye,  frankly  confessing 
disillusionment,  but  was  willing  to  accept  it  for  the  sake 
of  its  future  possibilities,  when  the  Pact  might  be  re- 
modelled by  more  liberal  and  more  democratic  hands. 

The  contrast  in  outlook  between  the  mild  evolutionism 
of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  and  the  social  radi- 
calism of  British  labor  stood  out  nowhere  so  strongly 
as  in  their  respective  programs  for  Reconstruction  after 
the  War.  The  chief  claim  of  the  British  Labor  party  for 
recognition  at  the  hands  of  the  voter  at  the  General 
Election  in  December  1918,  was  its  well-thought-out 
reconstruction  program  put  forth  under  the  telling  title 


of  "Labour  and  the  New  Social  Order."  This  program 
was  above  all  a  legislative  program.  It  called  for  a  thor- 
oughgoing governmental  control  of  industry  by  means 
of  a  control  of  private  finance,  natural  resources,  trans- 
portation, and  international  trade.  To  the  workingmen 
such  control  would  mean  the  right  to  steady  employment, 
the  right  to  a  living  wage,  and  the  appropriation  of  eco- 
nomic surpluses  by  the  state  for  the  common  good — be 
they  in  the  form  of  rent,  excessive  profits,  or  overlarge 
personal  incomes.  Beyond  this  minimum  program  loomed 
the  cooperative  commonwealth  with  the  private  capitalist 
totally  eliminated. 

Such  was  the  program  of  British  labor.  What  of  the 
Reconstruction  program  of  American  labor?  First  of  all, 
American  labor  thought  of  Reconstruction  as  a  program 
to  be  carried  out  by  the  trade  union,  not  by  the  govern- 
ment. Moreover,  it  did  not  see  in  Reconstruction  the 
great  break  with  the  past  which  that  meant  to  British 
labor.  The  American  Federation  of  Labor  applied  to  Re- 
construction the  same  philosophy  which  lies  at  the  basis 
of  its  ordinary,  everyday  activity.  It  concerned  itself 
not  with  any  far-reaching  plan  for  social  reorganization, 
but  with  a  rising  standard  of  living  and  an  enlarged  free- 
dom for  the  union.  The  American  equivalent  of  a  gov- 
ernment-guaranteed right  to  employment  and  a  living 
wage  was  the  "right  to  organize."  Assure  to  labor  that 
right,  free  the  trade  unions  of  court  interference  in  strikes 
and  boycotts,  prevent  excessive  meddling  by  the  govern- 
ment in  industrial  relations — and  the  stimulated  activities 
of  the  "legitimate"  organizations  of  labor,  which  will  re- 
sult therefrom,  will  achieve  a  far  better  Reconstruction 
than  a  thousand  paper  programs  however  beautiful.  So 
reasoned  the  leaders  of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor. 


During  the  period  of  War,  they  of  course  gladly  accepted 
directly  from  the  government  the  basic  eight-hour  day 
and  the  high  wages,  which  under  other  circumstances 
they  could  have  got  only  by  prolonged  and  bitter  strik- 
ing. But  even  more  acceptable  than  these  directly  be- 
stowed boons  was  the  indirect  one  of  the  right  to  organize 
free  from  anti-union  discriminations  by  employers.  Hav- 
ing been  arrested  in  its  expansion,  as  we  saw,  by  anti- 
union  employers  and  especially  "trusts,"  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor  took  advantage  of  the  War  situ- 
ation to  overflow  new  territory.  Once  entrenched  and  the 
organization  well  in  hand,  it  thought  it  could  look  to  the 
future  with  confidence. 


The  Armistice  with  Germany  came  suddenly  and  unex- 
pectedly. To  the  organized  workers  the  news  was  as  wel- 
come as  to  other  citizens.  But,  had  they  looked  at  the 
matter  from  a  special  trade  union  standpoint,  they  would 
probably  have  found  a  longer  duration  of  the  War  not 
entirely  amiss.  For  coal  had  been  unionized  already  be- 
fore the  War,  the  railways  first  during  the  War,  but  the 
third  basic  industry,  steel,  was  not  touched  either  before 
or  during  the  War.  However,  it  was  precisely  in  the 
steel  industry  that  opposition  to  unionism  has  found  its 
chief  seat,  not  only  to  unionism  in  that  industry  alone  but 
to  unionism  in  related  or  subsidiary  industries  as  well. 

The  first  three  months  after  the  Armistice  the  general 
expectation  was  for  a  set-back  in  business  conditions  due 
to  the  withdrawal  of  the  enormous  government  War-time 
demand.  Employers  and  trade  unions  stood  equally  unde- 
cided. When,  however,  instead  of  the  expected  slump, 
there  came  a  prosperity  unknown  even  during  the  War, 
the  trade  unions  resumed  their  offensive,  now  unrestrained 
by  any  other  but  the  strictly  economic  consideration.  As 
a  matter  of  fact,  the  trade  unions  were  not  at  all  free 
agents,  since  their  demands,  frequent  and  considerable 
though  they  were,  barely  sufficed  to  keep  wages  abreast 
of  the  soaring  cost  of  living.  Through  1919  and  the 



first  half  of  1920  profits  and  wages  were  going  up  by 
leaps  and  bounds;  and  the  forty-four  hour  week, — no 
longer  the  mere  eight-hour  day, — became  a  general  slo- 
gan and  a  partial  reality.  Success  was  especially  notable 
in  clothing,  building,  printing,  and  the  metal  trades.  One 
cannot  say  the  same,  however,  of  the  three  basic  industries, 
steel,  coal,  and  railways.  In  steel  the  twelve-hour  day  and 
the  seven-day  week  continued  as  before  for  approximately 
one-half  of  the  workers  and  the  unions  were  preparing  for 
a  battle  with  the  "Steel  Trust."  While  on  the  railways 
and  in  coal  mining  the  unions  now  began  to  encounter 
opposition  from  an  unexpected  quarter,  namely,  the  gov- 

When  in  the  summer  of  1919  the  railway  shopmen  de- 
manded an  increase  in  their  wages,  which  had  not  been 
raised  since  the  summer  of  1918,  President  Wilson  prac- 
tically refused  the  demand,  urging  the  need  of  a  general 
deflation  but  binding  himself  to  use  all  the  powers  of  the 
government  immediately  to  reduce  the  cost  of  living.  A 
significant  incident  in  this  situation  was  a  spontaneous 
strike  of  shopmen  on  many  roads  unauthorized  by  inter- 
national union  officials,  which  disarranged  the  movement 
of  trains  for  a  short  time  but  ended  with  the  men  return- 
ing to  work  under  the  combined  pressure  of  their  leaders* 
threats  and  the  President's  plea. 

In  September  1919,  the  United  States  Railroad  Ad- 
ministration and  the  shopmen's  unions  entered  into  na- 
tional agreements,  which  embodied  the  practices  under 
the  Administration  as  well  as  those  in  vogue  on  the  more 
liberal  roads  before  1918,  including  recognition  and  a 
large  number  of  "working  rules."  These  "national 
agreements"  became  an  important  issue  one  year  later, 
when  their  abolition  began  to  be  pressed  by  the  railway 


executives  before  the  Railroad  Labor  Board,  which  was 
established  under  the  Transportation  Act  of  1920. 

In  the  summer  of  1919  employers  in  certain  industries, 
like  clothing,  grew  aware  of  a  need  of  a  more  "psycho- 
logical" handling  of  their  labor  force  than  heretofore  in 
order  to  reduce  a  costly  high  labor  turnover  and  no  less 
costly  stoppages  of  work.  This  created  a  veritable  Eldo- 
rado for  "employment  managers'*  and  "labor  managers," 
real  and  spurious.  Universities  and  colleges,  heretofore 
wholly  uninterested  in  the  problem  of  labor  or  viewing 
training  in  that  problem  as  but  a  part  of  a  general  cul- 
tural education,  now  vied  with  one  another  in  establishing 
"labor  management"  and  "labor  personnel"  courses.  One 
phase  of  the  "labor  personnel"  work  was  a  rather  wide 
experimentation  with  "industrial  democracy"  plans. 
These  plans  varied  in  form  and  content,  from  simple  pro- 
vision for  shop  committees  for  collective  dealing,  many 
of  which  had  already  been  installed  during  the  War  under 
the  orders  of  the  War  Labor  Board,  to  most  elaborate 
schemes,  some  modelled  upon  the  Constitution  of  the 
United  States.  The  feature  which  they  all  had  in  com- 
mon was  that  they  attempted  to  achieve  some  sort  of  col- 
lective bargaining  outside  the  channels  of  the  established 
trade  unions.  The  trade  unionists  termed  the  new  fash- 
ioned expressions  of  industrial  democracy  "company 
unions."  This  term  one  may  accept  as  technically  cor- 
rect without  necessarily  accepting  the  sinister  connota- 
tion imputed  to  it  by  labor. 

The  trade  unions,  too,  were  benefiting  as  organizations. 
The  Amalgamated  Clothing  Workers'  Union  firmly  estab- 
lished itself  by  formal  agreement  on  the  men's  clothing 
"markets"  of  Chicago,  Rochester,  Baltimore,  and  New 


York.  The  membership  of  the  Amalgamated  Clothing 
Workers*  Union  rose  to  175,000.  Employers  in  general 
were  complaining  of  increased  labor  unrest,  a  falling  off 
of  efficiency  in  the  shop,  and  looked  askance  at  the  rapid 
march  of  unionization.  The  trade  unions,  on  their  part, 
were  aware  of  their  opportunity  and  eager  for  a  final 
recognition  as  an  institution  in  industry.  As  yet  uncer- 
tainty prevailed  as  to  whether  enough  had  survived  of 
the  War-time  spirit  of  give  and  take  to  make  a  struggle 
avoidable,  or  whether  the  issue  must  be  solved  by  a  bitter 
conflict  of  classes. 

A  partial  showdown  came  in  the  autumn  of  1919. 
Three  great  events,  which  came  closely  together,  helped 
to  clear  the  situation:  The  steel  strike,  the  President's 
Industrial  Conference,  and  the  strike  of  the  soft  coal  min- 
ers. The  great  steel  strike,  prepared  and  directed  by  a 
Committee  representing  twenty-four  national  and  inter- 
national unions  with  William  Z.  Foster  as  Secretary  and 
moving  spirit,  tried  in  September  1919  to  wrest  from 
the  owners  of  the  steel  mills  what  the  railway  shopmen 
had  achieved  in  1918  by  invitation  of  the  government, 
namely,  "recognition"  and  the  eight-hour  day.  Three 
hundred  thousand  men  went  out  on  strike  at  the  call  of 
the  committee.  The  industry  came  to  a  practical  stand- 
still. But  in  this  case  the  twenty-four  allied  unions 
were  not  dealing  with  a  government  amenable  to  political 
pressure,  nor  with  a  loosely  joined  association  of  employ- 
ers competing  among  themselves.  Furthermore,  the  time 
had  passed  when  the  government  had  either  the  will  or 
the  power  to  interfere  and  order  both  sides  to  arbitrate 
their  dispute.  On  the  contrary,  the  unions  were  now 
dealing  unaided  with  the  strongest  capitalist  aggregation 
in  the  world. 


At  the  request  of  President  Wilson,  Gompers  had  urged 
the  strike  committee  to  postpone  the  strike  until  after  the 
meeting  of  the  national  industrial  conference  called  by 
the  President  in  October,  but  the  committee  claimed  that 
it  could  not  have  kept  the  men  back  after  a  summer  of 
agitation  and  feverish  organization  had  they  even  tried. 
The  President's  conference,  modelled  upon  a  similar  con- 
ference which  met  earlier  in  Great  Britain,  was  composed 
of  three  groups  of  representatives  equal  in  number,  one 
for  capital,  one  for  labor,  and  one  for  the  general  public. 
Decisions,  to  be  held  effective,  had  to  be  adopted  by  a 
majority  in  each  group.  The  labor  representation,  domi- 
nated of  course  by  Gompers,  was  eager  to  make  the  dis- 
cussion turn  on  the  steel  strike.  It  proposed  a  resolution 
to  this  effect  which  had  the  support  of  the  public  group, 
but  fearing  a  certain  rejection  by  the  employer  group  the 
matter  was  postponed.  The  issue  upon  which  the  align- 
ment was  effected  was  industrial  control  and  collective 
bargaining.  All  three  groups,  the  employer  and  public 
groups  and  of  course  the  labor  group,  advocated  collec- 
tive bargaining, — but  with  a  difference.  The  labor  group 
insisted  that  collective  bargaining  is  doomed  to  be  a  farce 
unless  the  employes  are  allowed  to  choose  as  their  spokes- 
men representatives  of  the  national  trade  union.  In  the 
absence  of  a  powerful  protector  in  the  national  union, 
they  argued,  the  workers  in  a  shop  can  never  feel  them- 
selves on  a  bargaining  equality  with  their  employer,  nor 
can  they  be  represented  by  a  spokesman  of  the  necessary 
ability  if  their  choice  be  restricted  to  those  working  in 
the  same  plant.  The  employers,  now  no  longer  dominated 
by  the  War-time  spirit  which  caused  them  in  1917  to 
tolerate  an  expansion  of  unionism,  insisted  that  no  em- 
ployer must  be  obliged  to  meet  for  the  purpose  of  collec- 

tive  bargaining  with  other  than  his  own  employes.1  After 
two  weeks  of  uncertainty,  when  it  had  become  clear  that  a 
resolution  supported  by  both  labor  and  public  groups, 
which  restated  the  labor  position  in  a  milder  form,  would 
be  certain  to  be  voted  down  by  the  employer  group,  the 
labor  group  withdrew  from  the  conference,  and  the  con- 
ference broke  up.  The  period  of  the  cooperation  of 
classes  had  definitely  closed. 

Meantime  the  steel  strike  continued.  Federal  troops 
patrolled  the  steel  districts  and  there  was  no  violence. 
Nevertheless,  a  large  part  of  the  country's  press  pic- 
tured the  strike  by  the  steel  workers  for  union  recognition 
and  a  normal  workday  as  an  American  counterpart  of  the 
Bolshevist  revolution  in  Russia.  Public  opinion,  unbal- 
anced and  excited  as  it  was  over  the  whirlpool  of  world 
events,  was  in  no  position  to  resist.  The  strike  failed. 

Nothing  made  so  clear  to  the  trade  unionists  the 
changed  situation  since  the  War  ended  as  the  strike  of 
the  bituminous  coal  miners  which  began  November  1.  The 
miners  had  entered,  in  October  1917,  into  a  wage  agree- 
ment with  the  operators  for  the  duration  of  the  War. 
The  purchasing  power  of  their  wages  having  become 
greatly  reduced  by  the  ever  rising  cost  of  living,  discon- 
tent was  general  in  the  union.  A  further  complication 
arose  from  the  uncertain  position  of  the  United  States 
with  reference  to  War  and  Peace,  which  had  a  bearing  on 
the  situation.  The  miners  claimed  that  the  Armistice 
had  ended  the  War.  The  War  having  ended,  the  disad- 

1  The  most  plausible  argument  in  favor  of  the  position  taken  by 
the  employing  group  is  that  no  employer  should  be  forced  to  decide 
matters  as  intimately  connected  with  the  welfare  of  his  business 
as  the  ones  relating  to  his  labor  costs  and  shop  discipline  with 
national  union  leaders,  since  the  latter,  at  beat,  are  interested  in  the 
welfare  of  the  trade  as  a  whole  but  rarely  in  the  particular  success 
of  his  own  particular  establishment. 


vantageous  agreement  expired  with  it.  So  argued  the 
miners  and  demanded  a  sixty  per  cent,  increase  in  ton- 
nage rates,  a  corresponding  one  for  yardmen  and  others 
paid  by  the  day  or  hour,  and  a  thirty-hour  week  to 
spread  employment  through  the  year.  The  operators 
maintained  that  the  agreement  was  still  in  force,  but  in- 
timated a  readiness  to  make  concessions  if  they  were 
permitted  to  shift  the  cost  to  the  consumer.  At  this 
point,  the  Fuel  Administration,  a  War-time  government 
body,  already  partly  in  the  process  of  dissolution,  inter- 
vened and  attempted  to  dictate  a  settlement  at  a  fourteen 
per  cent,  increase,  which  was  entirely  unacceptable  to  the 
union.  The  strike  continued  and  the  prospect  of  a  dire 
coal  famine  grew  nearer.  To  break  the  deadlock,  on  mo- 
tion of  Attorney-General  Palmer,  Judge  Anderson  of 
Indianapolis,  under  the  War-time  Lever  Act,  issued  an 
injunction  forbidding  the  union  officials  to  continue  con- 
ducting the  strike.  The  strike  continued,  the  strikers 
refusing  to  return  to  work,  and  a  Bituminous  Coal  Com- 
mission appointed  by  the  President  finally  settled  it  by  an 
award  of  an  increase  of  twenty-seven  per  cent.  But  that 
the  same  Administration  which  had  given  the  unions  so 
many  advantages  during  the  War  should  now  have  invoked 
against  them  a  War-time  law,  which  had  already  been 
considered  practically  abrogated,  was  a  clear  indication 
of  the  change  in  the  times.  In  a  strike  by  anthracite 
coal  miners  in  the  following  year  an  award  was  made  by 
a  Presidential  board  of  three,  representing  the  employers, 
the  union,  and  the  public.  The  strikers,  however,  refused 
to  abide  by  it  and  inaugurated  a  "vacation-strike,"  the 
individual  strikers  staying  away  on  a  so-called  vacation, 
nominally  against  the  will  of  the  union  officers.  They 
finally  returned  to  work. 


Both  the  steel  and  coal  strikes  furnished  occasions  for 
considerable  anti-union  propaganda  in  the  press.  Public 
sentiment  long  favorable  to  labor  became  definitely  hos- 
tile.1 In  Kansas  the  legislature  passed  a  compulsory  arbi- 
tration law  and  created  an  Industrial  Relations  Court  to 
adjudicate  trade  disputes.  Simultaneously  an  "anti-Red" 
campaign  inaugurated  by  Attorney-General  Palmer  con- 
tributed its  share  to  the  public  excitement  and  helped  to 
prejudice  the  cause  of  labor  more  by  implication  than  by 
making  direct  charges.  It  was  in  an  atmosphere  thus  sur- 
charged with  suspicion  and  fear  that  a  group  of  employ- 
ers, led  by  the  National  Association  of  Manufacturers 
and  several  local  employers*  organizations,  launched  an 
open-shop  movement  with  the  slogan  of  an  "American 
plan"  for  shops  and  industries.  Many  employers,  nor- 
mally opposed  to  unionism,  who  in  War-time  had  per- 
mitted unionism  to  acquire  scope,  were  now  trying  to  re- 
conquer their  lost  positions.  The  example  of  the  steel 
industry  and  the  fiasco  of  the  President's  Industrial  Con- 
ference crystallized  this  reviving  anti-union  sentiment 
into  action. 

Meanwhile  the  railway  labor  situation  remained  un- 
settled and  fraught  with  danger.  The  problem  was  bound 
up  with  the  general  problem  as  to  what  to  do  with  the 
railways.  Many  plans  were  presented  to  Congress,  from 
an  immediate  return  to  private  owners  to  permanent 
government  ownership  and  management.  The  railway 
labor  organizations,  that  is,  the  four  brotherhoods  of  the 
train  service  personnel  and  the  twelve  unions  united  in 

*The  turn  in  public  sentiment  really  dated  from  the  threat  of  a 
strike  for  the  eight-hour  day  by  the  four  railway  brotherhoods  in 
1916,  which  forced  the  passage  of  the  Adamson  law  by  Congress. 
The  law  was  a  victory  for  the  brotherhoods,  but  also  extremely  useful 
to  the  enemies  of  organized  labor  in  arousing  public  hostility  to 


the  Railway  Employes*  Department  of  the  American 
Federation  of  Labor,  came  before  Congress  with  the  so- 
called  Plumb  Plan,  worked  out  by  Glenn  E.  Plumb,  the 
legal  representative  of  the  brotherhoods.  This  plan 
proposed  that  the  government  take  over  the  railways  for 
good,  paying  a  compensation  to  the  owners,  and  then 
entrust  their  operation  to  a  board  composed  of  govern- 
ment officials,  union  representatives,  and  representatives 
of  the  technical  staffs.1  So  much  for  ultimate  plans.  On 
the  more  immediate  wage  problem  proper,  the  government 
had  clearly  fallen  down  on  its  promise  made  to  the  shop- 
men in  August  1919,  when  their  demands  for  higher  wages 
were  refused  and  a  promise  was  made  that  the  cost  of 
living  would  be  reduced.  Early  in  1920  President  Wilson 
notified  Congress  that  he  would  return  the  roads  to 
the  owners  on  March  1,  1920.  A  few  days  before  that 
date  the  Esch-Cummins  bill  was  passed  under  the  name 
of  the  Transportation  Act  of  1920.  Strong  efforts  were 
made  to  incorporate  in  the  bill  a  prohibition  against 
strikes  and  lockouts.  In  that  form  it  had  indeed  passed 
the  Senate.  In  the  House  bill,  however,  the  compulsory 
arbitration  feature  was  absent  and  the  final  law  contained 
a  provision  for  a  Railroad  Labor  Board,  of  railway,  union, 
and  public  representatives,  to  be  appointed  by  the  Presi- 
dent, with  the  power  of  conducting  investigations  and 
issuing  awards,  but  with  the  right  to  strike  or  lockout 
unimpaired  either  before,  during,  or  after  the  investiga- 
tion. It  was  the  first  appointed  board  of  this  description 
which  was  to  pass  on  the  clamorous  demands  by  the 
railway  employes  for  higher  wages.2 

1  See  below,  259-261,  for  a  more  detailed  description  of  the  Plan. 
*The  Transportation  Act  included  a  provision  that  prior  to  Sep- 
tember 1,  1920,  the  railways  could  not  reduce  wages. 


No  sooner  had  the  roads  been  returned  under  the  new 
law,  and  before  the  board  was  even  appointed,  than  a 
strike  broke  out  among  the  switchmen  and  yardmen, 
whose  patience  had  apparently  been  exhausted.  The 
strike  was  an  "outlaw"  strike,  undertaken  against  the 
wishes  of  national  leaders  and  organized  and  led  by 
"rebel"  leaders  risen  up  for  the  occasion.  For  a  time  it 
threatened  not  only  to  paralyze  the  country's  railway 
system  but  to  wreck  the  railway  men's  organizations  as 
well.  It  was  finally  brought  to  an  end  through  the  ef- 
forts of  the  national  leaders,  and  a  telling  effect  on  the 
situation  was  produced  by  an  announcement  by  the  newly 
constituted  Railroad  Labor  Board  that  no  "outlaw"  or- 
ganization would  have  standing  before  it.  The  Board  is- 
sued an  award  on  July  20,  retroactive  to  May  1,  increasing 
the  total  annual  wage  bill  of  the  railways  by  $600,000,000. 
The  award  failed  to  satisfy  the  union,  but  they  acquiesced. 

When  the  increase  in  wages  was  granted  to  the  railway 
employes,  industry  in  general  and  the  railways  in  par- 
ticular were  already  entering  a  period  of  slump.  With 
the  depression  the  open-shop  movement  took  on  a  greater 
vigor.  With  unemployment  rapidly  increasing  employers 
saw  their  chance  to  regain  freedom  from  union  control. 
A  few  months  later  the  tide  also  turned  in  the  movement 
of  wages.  Inside  of  a  year  the  steel  industry  reduced 
wages  thirty  per  cent.,  in  three  like  installments ;  and  the 
twelve-hour  day  and  the  seven-day  week,  which  had  fig- 
ured among  the  chief  causes  of  the  strike  of  1919  and 
for  which  the  United  States  Steel  Corporation  was 
severely  condemned  by  a  report  of  a  Committee  of  the 
Interchurch  World  Movement,1  has  largely  continued  as 

1  A  Protestant  interdenominational  organization  of  influence,  which 
investigated  the  strike  and  issued  a  report. 


before.  In  the  New  York  "market"  of  the  men's  clothing 
industry,  where  the  union  faces  the  most  complex  and 
least  stable  condition  mainly  owing  to  the  heterogeneous 
character  of  the  employing  group,  the  latter  grasped  the 
opportunity  to  break  with  the  Amalgamated  Clothing 
Workers*  Union.  By  the  end  of  the  spring  of  1921  the 
clothing  workers  won  their  struggle,  showing  that  a 
union  built  along  new  lines  was  at  least  as  efficient  a 
fighting  machine  as  any  of  the  older  unions.  It  was  this 
union  also  and  several  local  branches  of  the  related  union 
in  the  ladies*  garment  industry,  which  realized  the  need  of 
assuring  to  the  employer  at  least  a  minimum  of  labor 
efficiency  if  the  newly  established  level  of  wages  was  not 
to  be  materially  lowered.  Hence  the  acceptance  of  the 
principle  of  "standards  of  production"  fixed  with  the 
aid  of  scientific  managers  employed  jointly  by  the  em- 
ployers and  the  union. 

The  spring  and  summer  of  1921  were  a  time  of  wide- 
spread "readjustment"  strikes,  or  strikes  against  cuts  in 
wages,  especially  in  the  building  trades.  The  building 
industry  went  through  in  1921  and  1922  one  of  its  peri- 
odic upheavals  against  the  tyranny  of  the  "walking 
delegates"  and  against  the  state  of  moral  corruption 
for  which  some  of  the  latter  shared  responsibility  to- 
gether with  an  unscrupulous  element  among  the  employers. 
In  San  Francisco,  where  the  grip  of  the  unions  upon  the 
industry  was  strongest,  the  employers  turned  on  them 
and  installed  the  "open-shop"  after  the  building  trades' 
council  had  refused  to  accept  an  award  by  an  arbitration 
committee  set  up  by  mutual  agreement.  The  union 
claimed,  however,  in  self- justification  that  the  Committee, 
by  awarding  a  reduction  in  the  wages  of  fifteen  crafts 
while  the  issue  as  originally  submitted  turned  on  a  demand 


by  these  crafts  for  a  raise  in  wages,  had  gone  outside  its 
legitimate  scope.  In  New  York  City  an  investigation 
by  a  special  legislative  committee  uncovered  a  state  of 
reeking  corruption  among  the  leadership  in  the  building 
trades*  council  and  among  an  element  in  the  employing 
group  in  connection  with  a  successful  attempt  to  establish 
a  virtual  local  monopoly  in  building.  Some  of  the  lead- 
ing corruptionists  on  both  sides  were  given  court  sen- 
tences and  the  building  trades'  council  accepted  modi- 
fications in  the  "working  rules"  formulated  by  the  counsel 
for  the  investigating  committee.  In  Chicago  a  situation 
developed  in  many  respects  similar  to  the  one  in  San  Fran- 
cisco. In  a  wage  dispute,  which  was  submitted  by  both 
sides  to  Federal  Judge  K.  M.  Landis  for  arbitration, 
the  award  authorized  not  only  a  wage  reduction  but  a 
revision  of  the  "working  rules"  as  well.  Most  of  the 
unionists  refused  to  abide  by  the  award  and  the  situation 
developed  into  literal  warfare.  In  Chicago  the  employers' 
side  was  aggressively  upheld  by  a  "citizens'  committee" 
formed  to  enforce  the  Landis  award.  The  committee 
claimed  to  have  imported  over  10,000  out-of-town  build- 
ing mechanics  to  take  the  places  of  the  strikers. 

In  the  autumn  of  1921  the  employers  in  the  packing 
industry  discontinued  the  arrangement  whereby  indus- 
trial relations  were  administered  by  an  "administrator,"  * 
Judge  Alschuler  of  Chicago,  whose  rulings  had  ma- 
terially restricted  the  employers'  control  in  the  shop. 
Some  of  the  employers  put  into  effect  company  union 
plans.  This  led  to  a  strike,  but  in  the  end  the  unions 
lost  their  foothold  in  the  industry,  which  the  War  had 
enabled  them  to  acquire.  By  that  time,  however,  the 
*The  union  had  not  been  formally  "recognized"  at  any  time. 


open-shop  movement  seemed  already  passing  its  peak, 
without  having  caused  an  irreparable  breach  in  the  posi- 
tion of  organized  labor.  Evidently,  the  long  years  of 
preparation  before  the  War  and  the  great  opportunity 
during  the  War  itself,  if  they  have  failed  to  give  trade 
unionism  the  position  of  a  recognized  national  institution, 
have  at  least  made  it  immune  from  destruction  by 
employers,  however  general  or  skillfully  managed  the 
attack.  In  1920  the  total  organized  union  membership, 
including  the  871,000  in  unions  unaffiliated  with  the  Amer- 
ican Federation  of  Labor,  was  slightly  short  of  5,000,000, 
or  over  four  million  in  the  Federation  itself.  In  1921 
the  membership  of  the  Federation  declined  slightly  to 
3,906,000,  and  the  total  organized  membership  probably 
in  proportion.  In  1922  the  membership  of  the  Federa- 
tion declined  to  about  3,200,000,  showing  a  loss  of  about 
850,000  since  the  high  mark  of  1920. 

The  legal  position  of  trade  unions  has  continued  as  un- 
certain and  unsatisfactory  to  the  unions,  as  if  no  Clay- 
ton Act  had  been  passed.  The  closed  shop  has  been 
condemned  as  coercion  of  non-unionists.  Yet  in  the  Cop- 
page  case  *  the  United  States  Supreme  Court  found  that 
it  is  not  coercion  when  an  employer  threatens  discharge 
unless  union  membership  is  renounced.  Similarly,  it  is 
unlawful  for  union  agents  to  attempt  organization,  even 
by  peaceful  persuasion,  when  employes  have  signed  con- 
tracts not  to  join  the  union  as  a  condition  of  employ- 
ment.2 A  decision  which  arouses  strong  doubt  whether 
the  Clayton  Act  made  any  change  in  the  status  of  trade 
unions  was  given  by  the  Supreme  Court  in  the  recent 

'Coppage  v.  Kansas,  236  U.  S.   (1915). 

'Hitchman  Coal  and  Coke  Co.  v.  Mitchell  et  al,  245  U.  S.  289 


Duplex  Printing  case.1  In  this  decision  the  union  rested 
its  defense  squarely  on  the  immunities  granted  by  the 
Clayton  Act.  Despite  this,  the  injunction  was  confirmed 
and  the  boycott  again  declared  illegal,  the  court  holding 
that  the  words  "employer  and  employes"  in  the  Act  re- 
strict its  benefits  only  to  "parties  standing  in  proximate 
relation  to  a  controversy,"  that  is  to  the  employes  who 
are  immediately  involved  in  the  dispute  and  not  to  the 
national  union  which  undertakes  to  bring  their  employer 
to  terms  by  causing  their  other  members  to  boycott  his 

The  prevailing  judicial  interpretation  of  unlawful 
union  methods  is  briefly  as  follows :  Strikes  are  illegal 
when  they  involve  defamation,  fraud,  actual  physical  vio- 
lence, threats  of  physical  violence,  or  inducement  of 
breach  of  contract.  Boycotts  are  illegal  when  they  bring 
third  parties  into  the  dispute  by  threats  of  strikes,  or  loss 
of  business,  publication  of  "unfair  lists,"  2  or  by  inter- 
ference with  Interstate  commerce.  Picketing  is  illegal 
when  accompanied  by  violence,  threats,  intimidation,  and 
coercion.  In  December  1921  the  Supreme  Court  de- 
clared mere  numbers  in  groups  constituted  intimidation 
and,  while  admitting  that  circumstances  may  alter 
cases,  limited  peaceful  picketing  to  one  picket  at  each 
point  of  ingress  or  egress  of  the  plant.3  In  another  case 
the  Court  held  unconstitutional  an  Arizona  statute,  which 
reproduced  verbatim  the  labor  clauses  of  the  Clayton 
Act ;  *  this  on  the  ground  that  concerted  action  by  the 
union  would  be  illegal  if  the  means  used  were  illegal  and 

1  Duplex  Printing  Press  Co.  ».  Deering,  41  Sup.  Ct.  172  (1921). 

'Montana  allows  the  "unfair  list"  and  California  allows  all 

1  American  Steel  Foundries  of  Granite  City,  Illinois,  v.  Tri-City 
Central  Trades'  Council,  42  Sup.  Ct.  72  (1921). 

*Truax  et  al.  t>.  Corrigan,  42  Sup.  Ct.  124  (1921). 


therefore  the  law  which  operated  to  make  them  legal  de- 
prived the  plaintiff  of  his  property  without  due  process 
of  law.  In  June  1922,  in  the  Coronado  case,  the  Court 
held  that  unions,  although  unincorporated,  are  in  every 
respect  like  corporations  and  are  liable  for  damages  in 
their  corporate  capacity,  including  triple  damages  under 
the  Sherman  Anti-Trust  law,  and  which  may  be  collected 
from  their  funds. 

We  have  already  pointed  out  that  since  the  War  ended 
the  American  labor  movement  has  in  the  popular  mind  be- 
come linked  with  radicalism.  The  steel  strike  and  the  coal 
miners*  strike  in  1919,  the  revolt  against  the  national 
leaders  and  "outlaw"  strikes  in  the  printing  industry  and 
on  the  railways  in  1920,  the  advocacy  by  the  organiza- 
tions of  the  railway  men  of  the  Plumb  Plan  for  nationali- 
zation of  railways  and  its  repeated  endorsement  by  the 
conventions  of  the  American  Federation  of  Labor,  the 
resolutions  in  favor  of  the  nationalization  of  coal  mines 
passed  at  the  conventions  of  the  United  Mine  Workers, 
the  "vacation"  strike  by  the  anthracite  coal  miners  in 
defiance  of  a  government  wage  award,  the  sympathy  ex- 
pressed for  Soviet  Russia  in  a  number  of  unions,  notably 
of  the  clothing  industry,  have  led  many  to  see,  despite  the 
assertions  of  the  leaders  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  to  the  contrary,  an  apparent  drift  in  the  labor 
movement  towards  radicalism,  or  even  the  probability  of 
a  radical  majority  in  the  Federation  in  the  not  distant 

The  most  startling  shift  has  been,  of  course,  in  the  rail- 
way men's  organizations,  which  have  changed  from  a 
pronounced  conservatism  to  an  advocacy  of  a  socialistic 
plan  of  railway  nationalization  under  the  Plumb  Plan. 
The  Plumb  Plan  raises  the  issue  of  socialism  in  its  Amer- 


ican  form.  In  bare  outline  the  Plan  proposes  government 
acquisition  of  the  railroads  at  a  value  which  excludes 
rights  and  privileges  not  specifically  granted  to  the  roads 
in  their  charters  from  the  States.  The  government 
would  then  lease  the  roads  to  a  private  operating  cor- 
poration governed  by  a  tri-partite  board  of  directors 
equally  representing  the  consuming  public,  the  mana- 
gerial employes,  and  the  classified  employes.  An  auto- 
matic economy-sharing  scheme  was  designed  to  assure 
efficient  service  at  low  rates  calculated  to  yield  a  fixed 
return  on  a  value  shorn  of  capitalized  privileges. 

The  purpose  of  the  Plumb  Plan  is  to  equalize  the  op- 
portunities of  labor  and  capital  in  using  economic  power 
to  obtain  just  rewards  for  services  rendered  to  the  public. 
In  this  respect  it  resembles  many  of  the  land  reform  and 
other  "panaceas"  which  are  scattered  through  labor  his- 
tory. Wherein  it  differs  is  in  making  the  trade  unions  the 
vital  and  organized  representatives  of  producers'  in- 
terests entitled  to  participate  in  the  direct  management  of 
industry.  An  ideal  of  copartnership  and  self-employ- 
ment was  thus  set  up,  going  beyond  the  boundaries  of 
self-help  to  which  organized  labor  had  limited  itself  in 
the  eighties. 

But  it  is  easy  to  overestimate  the  drift  in  the  direction 
of  radicalism.  The  Plumb  Plan  has  not  yet  been  made 
the  sine  qua  non  of  the  American  labor  program.  Al- 
though the  American  Federation  of  Labor  endorsed  the 
principle  of  government  ownership  of  the  railways  at  its 
conventions  of  1920  and  1921,  President  Gompers,  who 
spoke  against  the  Plan,  was  reflected  and  again  reflected. 
And  in  obeying  instructions  to  cooperate  with  brother- 
hood leaders,  he  found  that  they  also  thought  it  inoppor- 
tune to  press  Plumb  Plan  legislation  actively.  So  far 


as  the  railway  men  themselves  are  concerned,  after  the 
Railroad  Labor  Board  set  up  under  the  Esch-Cummins  act 
had  begun  to  pass  decisions  actually  affecting  wages  and 
working  rules,  the  pressure  for  the  Plumb  Plan  sub- 
sided. Instead,  the  activities  of  the  organizations,  though 
scarcely  lessened  in  intensity,  have  become  centered  upon 
the  issues  of  conditions  of  employment. 

The  drift  towards  independent  labor  politics,  which 
many  anticipate,  also  remains  quite  inconclusive.  A 
Farmer-Labor  party,  launched  in  1920  by  influential  la- 
bor leaders  of  Chicago  (to  be  sure,  against  the  wishes  of 
the  national  leaders),  polled  not  more  than  350,000 
votes.  And  in  the  same  election,  despite  a  wide  dissatis- 
faction in  labor  circles  with  the  change  in  the  govern- 
ment's attitude  after  the  passage  of  the  War  emergency 
and  with  a  most  sweeping  use  of  the  injunction  in  the 
coal  strike,  the  vote  for  the  socialist  candidate  for 
President  fell  below  a  million,  that  is  behind  the  vote 
of  1912,  notwithstanding  a  doubling  of  the  electorate 
with  women's  suffrage.  Finally,  the  same  convention  of 
the  American  Federation  of  Labor,  which  showed  so  much 
sympathy  for  the  ideas  of  the  Plumb  Plan  League,  ap- 
proved a  rupture  with  the  International  Trade  Union 
Federation,  with  headquarters  in  Amsterdam,  Holland, 
mainly  on  account  of  the  revolutionary  character  of  the 
addresses  issued  by  the  latter. 




To  interpret  the  labor  movement  means  to  offer  a 
theory  of  the  struggle  between  labor  and  capital  in  our 
present  society.  According  to  Karl  Marx,  the  founder 
of  modern  socialism,  the  efficient  cause  in  all  the  class 
struggles  of  history  has  been  technical  progress.  Prog- 
ress in  the  mode  of  making  a  living  or  the  growth  of 
"productive  forces,"  says  Marx,  causes  the  coming  up 
of  new  classes  and  stimulates  in  each  and  all  classes  a 
desire  to  use  their  power  for  a  maximum  class  advantage. 
Referring  to  the  struggle  between  the  class  of  wage 
earners  and  the  class  of  employers,  Marx  brings  out 
that  modern  machine  technique  has  concentrated  the 
social  means  of  production  under  the  ownership  of  the 
capitalist,  who  thus  became  absolute  master.  The  laborer 
indeed  remains  a  free  man  to  dispose  of  his  labor  as  he 
wishes,  but,  having  lost  possession  of  the  means  of  pro- 
duction, which  he  had  as  a  master-workman  during  the 
preceding  handicraft  stage  of  industry,  his  freedom  is 
only  an  illusion  and  his  bargaining  power  is  no  greater 
than  if  he  were  a  slave. 

But  capitalism,  Marx  goes  on  to  say,  while  it  debases 
the  worker,  at  the  same  time  produces  the  conditions  of 
his  ultimate  elevation.  Capitalism  with  its  starvation 
wages  and  misery  makes  the  workers  conscious  of  their 
common  interests  as  an  exploited  class,  concentrates  them 
in  a  limited  number  of  industrial  districts,  and  forces 



them  to  organize  for  a  struggle  against  the  exploiters. 
The  struggle  is  for  the  complete  displacement  of  the 
capitalists  both  in  government  and  industry  by  the  revo- 
lutionary labor  class.  Moreover,  capitalism  itself  ren- 
ders effective  although  unintended  aid  to  its  enemies  by 
developing  the  following  three  tendencies :  First,  we  have 
the  tendency  towards  the  concentration  of  capital  and 
wealth  in  the  hands  of  a  few  of  the  largest  capitalists, 
which  reduces  the  number  of  the  natural  supporters  of 
capitalism.  Second,  we  observe  a  tendency  towards  a 
steady  depression  of  wages  and  a  growing  misery  of  the 
wage-earning  class,  which  keeps  revolutionary  ardor 
alive.  And  lastly,  the  inevitable  and  frequent  economic 
crises  under  capitalism  disorganize  it  and  hasten  it  on 
towards  destruction.  The  last  and  gravest  capitalistic 
industrial  crisis  will  coincide  with  the  social  revolution 
which  will  bring  capitalism  to  an  end.  The  wage-earning 
class  must  under  no  condition  permit  itself  to  be  diverted 
from  its  revolutionary  program  into  futile  attempts  to 
"patch-up"  capitalism.  The  labor  struggle  must  be  for 
the  abolition  of  capitalism. 

American  wage  earners  have  steadily  disappointed  sev- 
eral generations  of  Marxians  by  their  refusal  to  accept 
the  Marxian  theory  of  social  development  and  the  Marx- 
ian revolutionary  goal.  In  fact,  in  their  thinking,  most 
American  wage  earners  do  not  start  with  any  general 
theory  of  industrial  society,  but  approach  the  subject  as 
bargainers,  desiring  to  strike  the  best  wage  bargain  pos- 
sible. They  also  have  a  conception  of  what  the  bargain 
ought  to  yield  them  by  way  of  real  income,  measured  in 
terms  of  their  customary  standard  of  living,  in  terms  of 
security  for  the  future,  and  in  terms  of  freedom  in  the 
shop  or  "self-determination."  What  impresses  them  is 


not  so  much  the  fact  that  the  employer  owns  the  employ- 
ment opportunities  but  that  he  possesses  a  high  degree 
of  bargaining  advantage  over  them.  Viewing  the  situ- 
ation as  bargainers,  they  are  forced  to  give  their  best 
attention  to  the  menaces  they  encounter  as  bargainers, 
namely,  to  the  competitive  menaces ;  for  on  these  the 
employer's  own  advantage  as  a  bargainer  rests.  Their 
impulse  is  therefore  not  to  suppress  the  employer,  but 
to  suppress  those  competitive  menaces,  be  they  convict 
labor,  foreign  labor,  "green"  or  untrained  workers  work- 
ing on  machines,  and  so  forth.  To  do  so  they  feel  they 
must  organize  into  a  union  and  engage  in  a  "class 
struggle"  against  the  employer. 

It  is  the  employer's  purpose  to  bring  in  ever  lower  and 
lower  levels  in  competition  among  laborers  and  depress 
wages;  it  is  the  purpose  of  the  union  to  eliminate  those 
lower  levels  and  to  make  them  stay  eliminated.  That 
brings  the  union  men  face  to  face  with  the  whole  matter 
of  industrial  control.  They  have  no  assurance  that  the 
employer  will  not  get  the  best  of  them  in  bargaining  un- 
less they  themselves  possess  enough  control  over  the  shop 
and  the  trade  to  check  him.  Hence  they  will  strive  for 
the  "recognition"  of  the  union  by  the  employer  or  the 
associated  employers  as  an  acknowledged  part  of  the 
government  of  the  shop  and  the  trade.  It  is  essential 
to  note  that  in  struggling  for  recognition,  labor  is  strug- 
gling not  for  something  absolute,  as  would  be  a  struggle 
for  a  complete  dispossession  of  the  employer,  but  for  the 
sort  of  an  end  that  admits  of  relative  differences  and 
gradations.  Industrial  control  may  be  divided  in  vary- 
ing proportions,1  reflecting  at  any  one  time  the  relative 

1  The  struggle  for  control,  as  carried  on  by  trade  unions,  centers 
on  such  matters  as  methods  of  wage  determination,  the  employer's 
right  of  discharge,  hiring  and  lay-off,  division  of  work,  methods  of 


ratio  of  bargaining  power  of  the  contesting  sides.  It  is 
labor's  aim  to  continue  increasing  its  bargaining  power 
and  with  it  its  share  of  industrial  control,  just  as  it  is 
the  employer's  aim  to  maintain  a  status  quo  or 
better.  Although  this  presupposes  a  continuous  strug- 
gle, it  is  not  a  revolutionary  but  an  "opportunist" 

Once  we  accept  the  view  that  a  broadly  conceived  aim 
to  control  competitive  menaces  is  the  key  to  the  conduct 
of  organized  labor  in  America,  light  is  thrown  on  the 
causes  of  the  American  industrial  class  struggles.  In 
place  of  looking  for  these  causes,  with  the  Marxians,  in 
the  domain  of  technique  and  production,  we  shall  look 
for  them  on  the  market,  where  all  developments  which 
affect  labor  as  a  bargainer  and  competitor,  of  which 
technical  change  is  one,  are  sooner  or  later  bound  to 
register  themselves.  It  will  then  become  possible  to  ac- 
count for  the  long  stretch  of  industrial  class  struggle 
in  America  prior  to  the  factory  system,  while  industry 
continued  on  the  basis  of  the  handicraft  method  of  pro- 
duction. Also  we  shall  be  able  to  render  to  ourselves  a 
clearer  account  of  the  changes,  with  time,  in  the  inten- 
sity of  the  struggle,  which,  were  we  to  follow  the  Marxian 
theory,  would  appear  hopelessly  irregular. 

We  shall  take  for  an  illustration  the  shoe  industry.1 
The  ease  with  which  shoes  can  be  transported  long  dis- 
tances, due  to  the  relatively  high  money  value  contained 
in  small  bulk,  rendered  the  shoe  industry  more  sensitive 
to  changes  in  marketing  than  other  industries.  Indeed 

enforcing  shop  discipline,  introduction  of  machinery  and  division  of 
labor,  transfers  of  employes,  promotions,  the  union  or  non-union 
shop,  and  similar  subjects. 

1The  first  trade  societies  were  organized  by  shoemakers.     (See 
above,  4-7.) 


we  may  say  that  the  shoe  industry  epitomized  the  general 
economic  evolution  of  the  country.1 

We  observe  no  industrial  class  struggle  during  Colonial 
times  when  the  market  remained  purely  local  and  the  work 
was  custom-order  work.  The  journeyman  found  his 
standard  of  life  protected  along  with  the  master's  own 
through  the  latter's  ability  to  strike  a  favorable  bargain 
with  the  consumer.  This  was  done  by  laying  stress  upon 
the  quality  of  the  work.  It  was  mainly  for  this  reason 
that  during  the  custom-order  stage  of  industry  the  jour- 
neymen seldom  if  ever  raised  a  protest  because  the  regu- 
lation of  the  craft,  be  it  through  a  guild  or  through  an 
informal  organization,  lay  wholly  in  the  hands  of  the 
masters.  Moreover,  the  typical  journeyman  expected  in 
a  few  years  to  set  up  with  an  apprentice  or  two  in 
business  for  himself — so  there  was  a  reasonable  harmony 
of  interests. 

A  change  came  when  improvements  in  transportation, 
the  highway  and  later  the  canal,  had  widened  the  area  of 
competition  among  masters.  As  a  first  step,  the  master 
began  to  produce  commodities  in  advance  of  the  demand, 
laying  up  a  stock  of  goods  for  the  retail  trade.  The 
result  was  that  his  bargaining  capacity  over  the  con- 
sumer was  lessened  and  so  prices  eventually  had  to  be  re- 
duced, and  with  them  also  wages.  The  next  step  was 
even  more  serious.  Having  succeeded  in  his  retail  busi- 
ness, the  master  began  to  covet  a  still  larger  market, — 
the  wholesale  market.  However,  the  competition  in  this 
wider  market  was  much  keener  than  it  had  been  in  the 
custom-order  or  even  in  the  retail  market.  It  was  inevit- 
able that  both  prices  and  wages  should  suffer  in  the  proc- 

1  See  Chapter  on  "American  Shoemakers,"  in  Labor  and  Admvnif- 
tration,  by  John  R.  Commons  (Macmillan,  1913). 


ess.  The  master,  of  course,  could  recoup  himself  by 
lowering  the  quality  of  the  product,  but  when  he  did  that 
he  lost  a  telling  argument  in  bargaining  with  the  con- 
sumer or  the  retail  merchant.  Another  result  of  this  new 
way  of  conducting  the  business  was  that  an  increased 
amount  of  capital  was  now  required  for  continuous 
operation,  both  in  raw  material  and  in  credits  extended  to 
distant  buyers. 

The  next  phase  in  the  evolution  of  the  market  rendered 
the  separation  of  the  journeymen  into  a  class  by  them- 
selves even  sharper  as  well  as  more  permanent.  The  mar- 
ket had  grown  to  such  dimensions  that  only  a  specialist 
in  marketing  and  credit  could  succeed  in  business,  namely, 
the  "merchant-capitalist."  The  latter  now  interposed 
himself  permanently  between  "producer"  and  consumer 
and  by  his  control  of  the  market  assumed  a  commanding 
position.  The  merchant-capitalist  ran  his  business  upon 
the  principle  of  a  large  turn-over  and  a  small  profit  per 
unit  of  product,  which,  of  course,  made  his  income  highly 
speculative.  He  was  accordingly  interested  primarily  in 
low  production  and  labor  costs.  To  depress  the  wage 
levels  he  tapped  new  and  cheaper  sources  of  labor  supply, 
in  prison  labor,  low  wage  country-town  labor,  woman 
and  child  labor;  and  set  them  up  as  competitive  menaces 
to  the  workers  in  the  trade.  The  merchant-capitalist 
system  forced  still  another  disadvantage  upon  the  wage 
earner  by  splitting  up  crafts  into  separate  operations 
and  tapping  lower  levels  of  skill.  In  the  merchant-cap- 
italist period  we  find  the  "team  work"  and  "task"  sys- 
tem. The  "team"  was  composed  of  several  workers :  a 
highly  skilled  journeyman  was  in  charge,  but  the  other 
members  possessed  varying  degrees  of  skill  down  to  the 
practically  unskilled  "finisher."  The  team  was  generally 


paid  a  lump  wage,  which  was  divided  by  an  understanding 
among  the  members.  With  all  that  the  merchant- 
capitalist  took  no  appreciable  part  in  the  produc- 
tive process.  His  equipment  consisted  of  a  warehouse 
where  the  raw  material  was  cut  up  and  given  out 
to  be  worked  up  by  small  contractors,  to  be  worked 
up  in  small  shops  with  a  few  journeymen  and  ap- 
prentices, or  else  by  the  journeyman  at  his  home, — all 
being  paid  by  the  piece.  This  was  the  notorious  "sweat- 
shop system." 

The  contractor  or  sweatshop  boss  was  a  mere  labor 
broker  deriving  his  income  from  the  margin  between  the 
piece  rate  he  received  from  the  merchant-capitalist  and 
the  rate  he  paid  in  wages.  As  any  workman  could  easily 
become  a  contractor  with  the  aid  of  small  savings  out  of 
wages,  or  with  the  aid  of  money  advanced  by  the  mer- 
chant-capitalist, the  competition  between  contractors  was 
of  necessity  of  the  cut-throat  kind.  The  industrial  class 
struggle  was  now  a  three-cornered  one,  the  contractor 
aligning  himself  here  with  the  journeymen,  whom  he  was 
forced  to  exploit,  there  with  the  merchant-capitalist,  but 
more  often  with  the  latter.  Also,  owing  to  the  precari- 
ousness  of  the  position  of  both  contractor  and  journey- 
man, the  class  struggle  now  reached  a  new  pitch  of  in- 
tensity hitherto  unheard  of.  It  is  important  to  note,  how- 
ever, that  as  yet  the  tools  of  production  had  not  under- 
gone any  appreciable  change,  remaining  hand  tools  as 
before,  and  also  that  the  journeyman  still  owned  them. 
So  that  the  beginning  of  class  struggles  had  nothing  to 
do  with  machine  technique  and  a  capitalist  ownership 
of  the  tools  of  production.  The  capitalist,  however,  had 
placed  himself  across  the  outlets  to  the  market  and  domi- 
nated by  using  all  the  available  competitive  menaces  to 


both  contractor  and  wage  earner.  Hence  the  bitter  class 

The  thirties  witnessed  the  beginning  of  the  merchant- 
capitalist  system  in  the  cities  of  the  East.  But  the 
situation  grew  most  serious  during  the  forties  and  fifties. 
That  was  a  period  of  the  greatest  disorganization  of  in- 
dustry. The  big  underlying  cause  was  the  rapid  exten- 
sion of  markets  outrunning  the  technical  development 
of  industry.  The  large  market,  opened  first  by  canals 
and  then  by  railroads,  stimulated  the  keenest  sort  of 
competition  among  the  merchant-capitalists.  But  the 
industrial  equipment  at  their  disposal  had  made  no 
considerable  progress.  Except  in  the  textile  industry, 
machinery  had  not  yet  been  invented  or  sufficiently  per- 
fected to  make  its  application  profitable.  Consequently 
industrial  society  was  in  the  position  of  an  antiquated 
public  utility  in  a  community  which  persistently  forces 
ever  lower  and  lower  rates.  It  could  continue  to  render 
service  only  by  cutting  down  the  returns  to  the  factors 
of  production, — by  lowering  profits,  and  especially  by 
pressing  down  wages. 

In  the  sixties  the  market  became  a  national  one  as  the 
effect  of  the  consolidation  into  trunk  lines  of  the  numer- 
ous and  disconnected  railway  lines  built  during  the  for- 
ties and  fifties.  Coincident  with  the  nationalized  market 
for  goods,  production  began  to  change  from  a  handicraft 
to  a  machine  basis.  The  former  sweatshop  boss  having 
accumulated  some  capital,  or  with  the  aid  of  credit,  now 
became  a  small  "manufacturer,'*  owning  a  small  plant 
and  employing  from  ten  to  fifty  workmen.  Machinery 
increased  the  productivity  of  labor  and  gave  a  consider- 
able margin  of  profits,  which  enabled  him  to  begin 
laying  a  foundation  for  his  future  independence  of  the 


middleman.  As  yet  he  was,  however,  far  from  inde- 

The  wider  areas  over  which  manufactured  products 
were  now  to  be  distributed,  called  more  than  ever  before 
for  the  services  of  the  specialist  in  marketing,  namely, 
the  wholes  ale- jobber.  As  the  market  extended,  he  sent 
out  his  traveling  men,  established  business  connections, 
and  advertised  the  articles  which  bore  his  trade  mark. 
His  control  of  the  market  opened  up  credit  with  the  banks, 
while  the  manufacturer,  who  with  the  exception  of  his 
patents  possessed  only  physical  capital  and  no  market 
opportunities,  found  it  difficult  to  obtain  credit.  More- 
over, the  rapid  introduction  of  machinery  tied  up  all  of 
the  manufacturers'  available  capital  and  forced  him  to 
turn  his  products  into  money  as  rapidly  as  possible,  with 
the  inevitable  result  that  the  merchant  was  given  an 
enormous  bargaining  advantage  over  him.  Had  the  ex- 
tension of  the  market  and  the  introduction  of  machinery 
proceeded  at  a  less  rapid  pace,  the  manufacturer  prob- 
ably would  have  been  able  to  obtain  greater  control  over 
the  market  opportunities,  and  the  larger  credit  which  this 
would  have  given  him,  combined  with  the  accumulation 
of  his  own  capital,  might  have  been  sufficient  to  meet  his 
needs.  However,  as  the  situation  really  developed,  the 
merchant  obtained  a  superior  bargaining  power  and,  by 
playing  off  the  competing  manufacturers  one  against 
another,  produced  a  cut-throat  competition,  low  prices, 
low  profits,  and  consequently  a  steady  and  insistent  pres- 
sure upon  wages.  This  represents  the  situation  in  the 
seventies  and  eighties. 

For  labor  the  combination  of  cut-throat  competition 
among  employers  with  the  new  machine  technique  brought 
serious  consequences.  In  this  era  of  machinery  the  forces 


of  technical  evolution  decisively  joined  hands  with  the 
older  forces  of  marketing  evolution  to  depress  the  con- 
ditions of  the  wage  bargain.  It  is  needless  to  dilate  upon 
the  effects  of  machine  technique  on  labor  conditions — 
they  have  become  a  commonplace  of  political  economy. 
The  shoemakers  were  first  among  the  organized  trades  to 
feel  the  effects.  In  the  later  sixties  they  organized  what 
was  then  the  largest  trade  union  in  the  world,  the  Order 
of  the  Knights  of  St.  Crispin,1  to  ward  off  the  menace  of 
"green  hands"  set  to  work  on  machines.  With  the  ma- 
chinists and  the  metal  trades  in  general,  the  invasion  of 
unskilled  and  little  skilled  competitors  began  a  decade 
later.  But  the  main  and  general  invasion  came  in  the 
eighties,  the  proper  era  from  which  to  date  machine  pro- 
duction in  America.  It  was  during  the  eighties  that  we 
witness  an  attempted  fusion  into  one  organization,  the 
Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor,  of  the  machine-menaced 
mechanics  and  the  hordes  of  the  unskilled.2 

With  the  nineties  a  change  comes  at  last.  The  manu- 
facturer finally  wins  his  independence.  Either  he  reaches 
out  directly  to  the  ultimate  consumer  by  means  of  chains 
of  stores  or  other  devices,  or  else,  he  makes  use  of  his 
control  over  patents  and  trade  marks  and  thus  succeeds 
in  reducing  the  wholesale- jobber  to  a  position  which  more 
nearly  resembles  that  of  an  agent  working  on  a  commis- 
sion basis  than  that  of  the  quondam  industrial  ruler.  The 
immediate  outcome  is,  of  course,  a  considerable  increase 
in  the  manufacturer's  margin  of  profit.  The  industrial 
class  struggle  begins  to  abate  in  intensity.  The  em- 
ployer, now  comparatively  free  of  anxiety  that  he  may 
be  forced  to  operate  at  a  loss,  is  able  to  diminish  pres- 

1  See  Don  D.  Lescohier,  The  Order  of  the  Knights  of  St.  Crispin. 
'See  above,  114-116. 


sure  on  wages.  But  more  than  this :  the  greater  certainty 
about  the  future,  now  that  he  is  a  free  agent,  enables  him 
to  enter  into  time  agreements  with  a  trade  union.  At 
first  he  is  generally  disinclined  to  forego  any  share  of  his 
newly  acquired  freedom  by  tying  himself  up  with  a  union. 
But  if  the  union  is  strong  and  can  offer  battle,  then  he 
accepts  the  situation  and  "recognizes"  it.  Thus  the  class 
struggle  instead  of  becoming  sharper  and  sharper  with 
the  advance  of  capitalism  and  leading,  as  Marx  pre- 
dicted, to  a  social  revolution,  in  reality,  grows  less  and 
less  revolutionary  and  leads  to  a  compromise  or  succes- 
sion of  compromises, — namely,  collective  trade  agree- 

But  the  manufacturer's  emancipation  from  the  middle- 
man need  not  always  lead  to  trade  agreements.  In  the 
shoe  industry  this  process  did  not  do  away  with  competi- 
tion. In  other  industries  such  an  emancipation  was  iden- 
tical with  the  coming  in  of  the  "trust,"  or  a  combina- 
tion of  competing  manufacturers  into  a  monopoly.  As 
soon  as  the  "trust"  becomes  practically  the  sole  employer 
of  labor  in  an  industry,  the  relations  between  labor  and 
capital  are  thrown  almost  invariably  back  into  the  state 
of  affairs  which  characterized  the  merchant-capitalist 
system  at  its  worst,  but  with  one  important  difference. 
Whereas  under  the  merchant-capitalist  system  the  em- 
ployer was  obliged  to  press  down  on  wages  and  fight 
unionism  to  death  owing  to  cut-throat  competition,  the 
"trust,"  its  strength  supreme  in  both  commodity  and 
labor  market,  can  do  so  and  usually  does  so  of  free 

The  character  of  the  labor  struggle  has  been  influenced 
by  cyclical  changes  in  industry  as  much  as  by  the  perma- 
nent changes  in  the  organization  of  industry  and  market. 

In  fact,  whereas  reaction  to  the  latter  has  generally  been 
slow  and  noticeable  only  over  long  periods  of  time,  with 
a  turn  in  the  business  cycle,  the  labor  movement  reacted 
surely  and  instantaneously. 

We  observed  over  the  greater  part  of  the  history  of 
American  labor  an  alternation  of  two  planes  of  thought 
and  action,  an  upper  and  a  lower.  On  the  upper  plane, 
labor  thought  was  concerned  with  ultimate  goals,  self- 
employment  or  cooperation,  and  problems  arising  there- 
from, while  action  took  the  form  of  politics.  On  the 
lower  plane,  labor  abandoned  the  ultimate  for  the  proxi- 
mate, centering  on  betterments  within  the  limits  of  the 
wage  system  and  on  trade-union  activity.  Labor  history 
in  the  past  century  was  largely  a  story  of  labor's  shifting 
from  one  plane  to  another,  and  then  again  to  the  first. 
It  was  also  seen  that  what  determined  the  plane  of 
thought  and  action  at  any  one  time  was  the  state  of 
business  measured  by  movements  of  wholesale  and  retail 
prices  and  employment  and  unemployment.  When  prices 
rose  and  margins  of  employers'  profits  were  on  the  in- 
crease, the  demand  for  labor  increased  and  accordingly 
also  labor's  strength  as  a  bargainer;  at  the  same  time, 
labor  was  compelled  to  organize  to  meet  a  rising  cost  of 
living.  At  such  times  trade  unionism  monopolized  the 
arena,  won  strikes,  increased  membership,  and  forced 
"cure-alls"  and  politics  into  the  background.  NWhen, 
however,  prices  fell  and  margins  of  profit  contracted, 
labor's  bargaining  strength  waned,  strikes  were  lost, 
trade  unions  faced  the  danger  of  extinction,  and  "cure- 
alls"  and  politics  received  their  day  in  court.  Labor 
would  turn  to  government  and  politics  only  as  a  last 
resort,  when  it  had  lost  confidence  in  its  ability  to  hold 
its  own  in  industry.  This  phenomenon,  noticeable  also  in 


other  countries,  came  out  with  particular  clearness  in 

For,  as  a  rule,  down  to  the  World  War,  prices  both 
wholesale  and  retail,  fluctuated  in  America  more  vio- 
lently than  in  England  or  the  Continent.  And  twice, 
once  in  the  thirties  and  again  in  the  sixties,  an  irre- 
deemable paper  currency  moved  up  the  water  mark  of 
prices  to  tremendous  heights  followed  by  reactions  of 
corresponding  depth.  From  the  war  of  1812,  the  actual 
beginning  of  an  industrial  America,  to  the  end  of  the 
century,  the  country  went  through  several  such  complete 
industrial  and  business  cycles.  We  therefore  conveni- 
ently divide  labor  and  trade  union  history  into  periods 
on  the  basis  of  the  industrial  cycle.  It  was  only  in  the 
nineties,  as  we  saw,  that  the  response  of  the  labor  move- 
ment to  price  fluctuations  ceased  to  mean  a  complete  or 
nearly  complete  abandonment  of  trade  unionism  during 
depressions.  A  continuous  and  stable  trade  union  move- 
ment consequently  dates  only  from  the  nineties. 

The  cooperative  movement  which  was,  as  we  saw,  far 
less  continuous  than  trade  unionism,  has  also  shown  the 
effects  of  the  business  cycle.  The  career  of  distributive 
cooperation  in  America  has  always  been  intimately  re- 
lated to  the  movements  of  retail  prices  and  wages.  If, 
in  the  advance  of  wages  and  prices  during  the  ascending 
portion  of  the  industrial  cycle,  the  cost  of  living  hap- 
pened to  outdistance  wages  by  a  wide  margin,  the  wage 
earners  sought  a  remedy  in  distributive  cooperation. 
They  acted  likewise  during  the  descending  portion  of  the 
industrial  cycle,  when  retail  prices  happened  to  fall  much 
less  slowly  than  wages. 

Producers*  cooperation  in  the  United  States  has  gen- 
erally been  a  "hard  times"  remedy.  When  industrial 


prosperity  has  passed  its  high  crest  and  strikes  have 
begun  to  fail,  producers*  cooperation  has  often  been 
used  as  a  retaliatory  measure  to  bring  the  employer  to 
terms  by  menacing  to  underbid  him  in  the  market.  Also, 
when  in  the  further  downward  course  of  industry  the 
point  has  been  reached  where  cuts  in  wages  and  unem- 
ployment have  become  quite  common,  producers*  coopera- 
tion has  sometimes  come  in  as  an  attempt  to  enable  the 
wage  earner  to  obtain  both  employment  and  high  earn- 
ings bolstered  through  cooperative  profits. 



The  puzzling  fact  about  the  American  labor  movement 
is,  after  all,  its  limited  objective.  As  we  saw  before,  the 
social  order  which  the  typical  American  trade  unionist 
considers  ideal  is  one  in  which  organized  labor  and  or- 
ganized capital  possess  equal  bargaining  power.  The 
American  trade  unionist  wants,  first,  an  equal  voice  with 
the  employer  in  fixing  wages  and,  second,  a  big  enough 
control  over  the  productive  processes  to  protect  job, 
health,  and  organization.  Yet  he  does  not  appear  to  wish 
to  saddle  himself  and  fellow  wage  earners  with  the 
trouble  of  running  industry  without  the  employer. 

But  materialistic  though  this  philosophy  appears,  it  is 
nevertheless  the  product  of  a  long  development  to  which 
the  spiritual  contributed  no  less  than  the  material.  In 
fact  the  American  labor  movement  arrived  at  an  oppor- 
tunist trade  unionism  only  after  an  endeavor  spread  over 
more  than  seventy  years  to  realize  a  more  idealistic  pro- 

American  labor  started  with  the  "ideology"  of  the 
Declaration  of  Independence  in  1776.  Intended  as  a 
justification  of  a  political  revolution,  the  Declaration  was 
worded  by  the  authors  as  an  expression  of  faith  in  a 
social  revolution.  To  controvert  the  claims  of  George 
III,  Thomas  Jefferson  quoted  Rousseau.  To  him  Rous- 
seau was  in  all  probability  little  more  than  an  abstract 
"beau  ideal,"  but  Rousseau's  abstractions  were  no  mere 



abstractions  to  the  pioneer  American  farmer.  To  the  lat- 
ter the  doctrine  that  all  men  are  born  free  and  equal 
seemed  to  have  grown  directly  out  of  experience.  So 
it  appeared,  two  or  three  generations  later,  to  the  young 
workmen  when  they  for  the  first  time  achieved  political 
consciousness.  And,  if  reality  ceased  to  square  with  the 
principles  of  the  Declaration,  it  became,  they  felt,  the 
bounden  duty  of  every  true  American  to  amend  reality. 

Out  of  a  combination  of  the  principles  of  individual 
rights,  individual  self-determination,  equality  of  oppor- 
tunity, and  political  equality  enumerated  and  suggested 
in  the  Declaration,  arose  the  first  and  most  persistent 
American  labor  philosophy.  This  philosophy  differed  in 
no  wise  from  the  philosophy  of  the  old  American  de- 
mocracy except  in  emphasis  and  particular  application, 
yet  these  differences  are  highly  significant.  Labor  read 
into  the  Declaration  of  Independence  a  condemnation  of 
the  wage  system  as  a  permanent  economic  regime ;  sooner 
or  later  in  place  of  the  wage  system  had  to  come  self- 
employment.  Americanism  to  them  was  a  social  and  eco- 
nomic as  well  as  a  political  creed.  Economic  self-deter- 
mination was  as  essential  to  the  individual  as  political 
equality.  Just  as  no  true  American  will  take  orders  from 
a  king,  so  he  will  not  consent  forever  to  remain  under 
the  orders  of  a  "boss."  It  was  the  uplifting  force  of  this 
social  ideal  as  much  as  the  propelling  force  of  the  chang- 
ing economic  environment  that  molded  the  American 
labor  program. 

We  find  it  at  work  at  first  in  the  decade  of  the  thirties 
at  the  very  beginning  of  the  labor  movement.  It  then 
took  the  form  of  a  demand  for  a  free  public  school  system. 
These  workingmen  in  Philadelphia  and  New  York  dis- 
covered that  in  the  place  of  the  social  democracy  of  the 


Declaration,  America   had  developed  into   an   "aristoc- 
racy."    They  thought  that  the  root  all  lay  in  "in- 
equitable" legislation  which  fostered  "monopoly,"  hence 
the  remedy  lay  in  democratic  legislation.     But  they  fur- 
ther realized  that  a  political  and  social  democracy  must 
be  based  on  an  educated  and  intelligent  working  class. 
No  measure,  therefore,  could  be  more  than  a  palliative  j        < 
until  they  got  a  "Republican"  system  of  education.     The  *  *  ~ 
workingmen's  parties  of  1828-1831  failed  as  parties,  but    ' 
humanitarians  like  Horace  Mann  took  up  the  struggle  for 
free  public  education  and  carried  it  to  success. 

If  in  the  thirties  the  labor  program  was  to  restore  a 
sojeial  and  political  democracy  by  means  of  the  public 
school,  in  the  forties  the  program  centered  on  economic 
democracy,  on  equality  of  economic  opportunity.  This 
took  the  form  of  a  demand  of  a  grant  of  public  land  free 
of  charge  to  everyone  willing  to  brave  the  rigors  of  pio- 
neer life.  The  government  should  thus  open  an  escape  to 
the  worker  from  the  wage  system  into  self-employment  by 
way  of  free  land.  After  years  of  agitation,  the  same 
cry  was  taken  up  by  the  Western  States  eager  for  more 
settlers  to  build  up  their  communities  and  this  combined 
agitation  proved  irresistible  and  culminated  in  the  Home-  , 
stead  law  of  1862.  ,"i 

The  Homestead  law  opened  up  the  road  to  self-employ- 
ment by  way  of  free  land  and  agriculture.  But  in  the 
sixties  the  United  States  was  already  becoming  an  in- 
dustrial country.  In  abandoning  the  city  for  the  farm, 
the  wage  earner  would  lose  the  value  of  his  greatest  pos- 
session— his  skill.  Moreover,  as  a  homesteader,  his  prob- 
lem was  far  from  solved  by  mere  access  to  free  land. 
Whether  he  went  on  the  land  or  stayed  in  industry,  he 
needed  access  to  reasonably  free  credit.  The  device  in- 


vented  by  workingmen  to  this  end  was  the  bizarre  "green- 
back'* idea  which  held  their  minds  as  if  in  a  vise  for 
nearly  twenty  years.  "Greenbackism'*  left  no  such  per- 
manent trace  on  American  social  and  economic  structure 
as  "Republican  education"  or  "free  land." 

The  lure  of  "greenbackism"  was  that  it  offered  an 
opportunity  for  self-employment.  But  already  in  the 
sixties,  it  became  clear  that  the  workingman  could  not 
expect  to  attain  self-employment  as  an  individual,  but 
if  at  all,  it  had  to  be  sought  on  the  basis  of  producers* 
cooperation.  In  the  eighties,  it  became  doubly  clear  that 
industry  had  gone  beyond  the  one-man-shop  stage;  self- 
employment  had  to  stand  or  fall  with  the  cooperative 
or  self-governing  workshop.  The  protagonist  of  this 
most  interesting  and  most  idealistic  striving  of  American 
labor  was  the  "Noble  Order  of  the  Knights  of  Labor," 
which  reached  its  height  in  the  middle  of  the  eighties. 

The  period  of  the  greatest  enthusiasm  for  cooperation 
was  between  1884  and  1887 ;  and  by  1888  the  cooperative 
movement  had  passed  the  full  cycle  of  life  and  succumbed. 
The  failure  of  cooperation  proved  a  turning  point  in 
the  evolution  of  the  American  labor  program.  Whatever 
the  special  causes  of  failure,  the  idealistic  unionism,  for 
which  the  ideas  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence  served 
as  a  fountain  head,  suffered  in  the  eyes  of  labor,  a  degree 
of  discredit  so  overwhelming  that  to  regain  its  old  posi- 
tion was  no  longer  possible.  The  times  were  ripe  for  the 
opportunistic  unionism  of  Gompers  and  the  trade 

These  latter,  having  started  in  the  seventies  as  Marxian 
socialists,  had  been  made  over  into  opportunistic  unionists 
by  their  practical  contact  with  American  conditions. 
Their  philosophy  was  narrower  than  that  of  the  Knights 


and  their  concept  of  labor  solidarity  narrower  still.  How- 
ever, these  trade  unionists  demonstrated  that  they  could 
win  strikes.  It  was  to  this  practical  trade  unionism,  then, 
that  the  American  labor  movement  turned,  about  1890, 
when  the  idealism  of  the  Knights  of  Labor  had  failed. 
From  gropjng_iar_a  cooperative  economic  order  j>r  self- 
empjoyment,  labor  turned  with  the  American  Federation 
of  Labor  to  developing  bargaining  power  for  use  against 
empjloyers.  This  trade  unionism  stood  for  a  strengthened 
group  consciousness.  While  it  continued  to  avow  sym- 
pathy with  the  "anti-monopoly"  aspirations  of  the  "pro- 
ducers," who  fought  for  the  opportunity  of  self-employ- 
ment, it  also  declared  that  the  interests  of  democracy 
will  be  best  served  if  the  wage  earners  organized  by 
themselves.  Cfi^_P^_j- 

This  opportunist  unionism,  now  at  last  triumphant 
over  the  idealistic  unionism  induced  by  America's  spiritual 
tradition,  soon  was  obliged  to  fight  against  a  revolu- 
tionary unionism  which,  like  itself,  was  an  offshoot  of  the 
socialism  of  the  seventies.  At  first,  the  American  Feder- 
ation of  Labor  was  far  from  hostile  to  socialism  as  a 
philosophy.  '  Its  attitude  was  rather  one  of  mild  con- 
tempt for  what  it  considered  to  be  wholly  impracticable 
under  American  conditions,  however  necessary  or  effica- 
cious under  other  conditions.  When,  about  1890,  the  so- 
cialists declared  their  policy  of  "boring  from  within," 
that  is,  of  capturing  the  Federation  for  socialism  by 
means  of  propaganda  in  Federation  ranks,  this  attitude 
remained  practically  unchanged.  Only  when,  dissatis- 
fied with  the  results  of  boring  from  within,  the  socialists, 
now  led  by  a  more  determined  leadership,  attempted  in 
1895  to  set  up  a  rival  to  the  Federation  in  the  Socialist 
Trade  and  Labor  Alliance,  was  there  a  sharp  line  drawn 


between  socialist  and  anti-socialist  in  the  Federation. 
The  issue  once  having  become  a  fighting  issue,  the 
leaders  of  the  Federation  experienced  the  need  of  a 
positive  and  well  rounded-out  social  philosophy  capable 
of  meeting  socialism  all  along  the  front  instead  of  the 
former  self-imposed  super-pragmatism. 

By  this  time,  the  Federation  had  become  sufficiently 
removed  in  point  of  time  from  its  foreign  origin  to  turn 
to  the  social  ideal  derived  from  pioneer  America  as  the 
philosophy  which  it  hoped  would  successfully  combat  an 
aggressive  and  arrogant  socialism.  Thus  it  came  about 
that  the  front  against  socialism  was  built  out  from  the 
immediate  and  practical  into  the  ultimate  and  spiritual; 
and  that  inferences  drawn  from  a  reading  of  Jefferson's 
Declaration,  with  its  emphasis  on  individual  liberty, 
were  pressed  into  service  against  the  seductive  collectivist 
forecasts  of  Marx. 




The  question  of  a  political  labor  party  hinges,  in  the 
last  analysis,  on  the  benefits  which  labor  expects  from 
government.  If,  under  the  constitution,  government  pos- 
sesses considerable  power  to  regulate  industrial  relations 
and  improve  labor  conditions,  political  power  is  worth 
striving  for.  If,  on  the  contrary,  the  power  of  the  jgov- 
ernment  is  restricted  by  a  rigid  organic  law,  the  matter 
is  reversed.  The  latter  is  the  situation  in  the  United 
States.  The  American  constitutions,  both  Federal  and 
State,  contain  bills  of  rights  which  embody  in  fullness  the 
eighteenth-century  philosophy  of  economic  individualism 
and  governmental  laissez-faire.  ^The  courts,  Federal 

?.      !Th( 

and  State,  are  given  the  right  tojoverride  any  law  jnacted 
by  Congress  or  Jthe  State  legislatures  which  may  be  shown 
to  conflict  with  constitutional  rights. 

In  the  exercise  of  this  right,  American  judges  have 
always  inclined  to  be  very  conservative  in  allowing  the 
legislature  to  invade  the  province  of  economic  freedom. 
At  present  after  many  years  of  agitation  by  humanitari- 
ans and  trade  unionists,  the  cause  of  legislative  protec- 
tion of  child  and  woman  laborers  seems  to  be  won  in 
principle.  But  this  progress  has  been  made  because  it 
has  been  shown  conclusively  that  the  protection  of  these 
most  helpless  groups  of  the  wage-earning  class  clearly 
falls  within  the  scope  of  public  purpose  and  is  therefore 



a  lawful  exercise  of  the  state's  police  power  within  the 
meaning  of  the  constitution.  However,  adult  male  labor 
offers  a  far  different  case.  Moreover,  should  the  unex- 
pected happen  and  the  courts  become  converted  to  a 
broader  view,  the  legislative  standards  would  be  small  com- 
pared with  the  standards  already  enforced  by  most  of 
the  trade  unions.  Consequently,  so  far  as  adult  male 
workers  are  concerned  (and  they  are  of  course  the  great 
bulk  of  organized  labor),  labor  in  America  would  scarcely 
be  justified  in  diverting  even  a  part  of  its  energy  from 
trade  unionism  to  a  relatively  unprofitable  seeking  of 
redress  through  legislatures  and  courts.1 

But  this  is  no  more  than  half  the  story.  Granting 
even  'that  political  power  may  be  worth  having,  its  at- 
tainment is  beset  with  difficulties  and  dangers  more  than 
sufficient  to  make  responsible  leaders  pause.  The  causes 
reside  once  more  in  the  form  of  government,  also  in  the 
general  nature  of  American  politics,  and  in  political  his- 
tory and  tradition.  To  begin  with,  labor  would  have 
to  fight  not  on  one  front,  but  on  forty-nine  different 

Congress  and  the  States  have  power  to  legislate  on 
lajjor  matters ;  also,  jn^  each,  power  is  divided  between 
anjexecutive  and  the  two  houses  of  the  legislature.  De- 
cidedly, government  in  America  was  built  not  for  strength 

1  This  assumes  that  the  legislative  program  of  labor  would  deal 
primarily  with  the  regulation  of  labor  conditions  in  private  employ- 
ment analogous  to  the  legislative  program  of  the  British  trade 
unions  until  recent  years.  Should  labor  in  America  follow  the  newer 
program  of  labor  in  Britain  and  demand  the  taking  over  of  indus- 
tries by  government  with  compensation,  it  is  not  certain  that  the 
courts  would  prove  as  serious  a  barrier  as  in  the  other  case.  However, 
the  situation  would  remain  unchanged  so  far  as  the  difficulties  dis- 
cussed in  the  remainder  of  this  chapter  are  concerned. 

*  For  the  control  of  the  national  government  and  of  the  forty-eight 
State  governments. 


but  for  weakness.  The  splitting  up  of  sovereignty  does 
not  especially  interfere  ^with  the  purposes  of  a  conserva- 
tive party,  but  c£p_  ai jDarty  of  social  and  industrial  re- 
form it  offers  a  disheartening  obstacle.  A  labor  party, 
to  be  effective,  would  be  obliged  to  capture  all  the  dif- 
fused bits  of  sovereignty  at  the  same  time.  A  partial 
gain  is  of  little  avail,  since  it  is  likely  to  be  lost  at  the 
next  election  even  simultaneously  with  a  new  gain.  But 
we  have  assumed  here  that  the  labor  party  had  reached 
the  point  where  its  trials  are  the  trials  of  a  party  in 
power  or  nearing  power.  In  reality,  American  labor 
parties  are  spared  this  sort  of  trouble  by  trials  of  an 
anterior  order  residing  in  the  nature  of  American  politics. 

The  American  political  party  system  antedates  the 
formation  of  modern  economic  classes,  especially  the  class 
alignment  of  labor  and  capital.  Each  of  the  old  parties 
represents,  at  least  in  theory,  the  entire  American  com- 
munity regardless  of  class.  Party  differences  are  con- 
sidered differences  of  opinion  or  of  judgment  on  matters 
of  public  policy,  not  differences  of  class  interest.  The 
wage  earner  in  America,  who  never  had  to  fight  for  his 
suffrage  but  received  it  as  a  free  gift  from  the  Jefferso- 
nian  and  Jacksonian  democratic  movements  and  who  did 
not  therefore  develop  the  political  class  consciousness 
which  was  stamped  into  the  workers  in  Europe  by  the 
feeling  of  revolt  against  an  upper  ruling  class,  is  prone 
to  adopt  the  same  view  of  politics.  Class  parties  in 
America  have  always  been  effectively  countered  by  the  old 
established  parties  with  the  charge  that  they  tend  to 
incite  class  against  class. 

But  the  old  parties  had  on  numerous  occasions,  as  we 
saw,  an  even  more  effective  weapon.  No_  sooner  did^  a 
labor  party  gain  a  foothold,  than  the  old  party  politician, 


the  "friend  of  labor/'  did  appear  and  start  a  rival 
attraction  by  a  more  or  less  verbal  adherence  to  one 
or  more  planks  of  the  rising  party.  Had  he  been, 
as  in  Europe,  a  branded  spokesman  of  a  particular  eco- 
nomic class  or  interest,  it  would  not  have  been  difficult 
to  ward  him  off .  But  here  in  America,  he  said  that  he  too 
was  a  workingman  and  was  heart  and  soul  for  the  work- 
ingman.  Moreover,  the  workingman  was  just  as  much 
attached  to  an  old  party  label  as  any  average  American. 
In  a  way  he  considered  it  an  assertion  of  his  social  equal- 
ity with  any  other  group  of  Americans  that  he  could 
afford  to  take  the  same  "disinterested"  and  tradition- 
bound  view  of  political  struggles  as  the  rest.  This  is 
why  labor  parties  generally  encountered  such  disheart- 
ening receptions  at  the  hands  of  workingmen;  also  why 
it  was  difficult  to  "deliver  the  labor  vote"  to  any  party. 
This,  on  the  whole,  describes  the  condition  of  affairs  to- 
day as  it  does  the  situations  in  the  past. 
.  In  the  j?nd,  should  the  workingman  be  pried  loose  from 
his  traditional  party  affiliation  by  a  labor  event  of  tran- 
scendent importance  for  the  time  being,  should  he  be 
stirred  to  political  revolt  by  an  oppressive  court  decision, 
or  the  use  of  troops  to  break  a  strike;  then,  at  the  next 
election,  when  the  excitement  has  had  time  to  subside, 
he  will  usually  return  to  his  political  normality.  More- 
over, should  labor  discontent  attain  depth,  it  may  be 
safely  assumed  that  either  one  or  the  other  of  the  old 
parties  or  a  faction  therein  will  seek  to  divert  its  driving 
force  into  its  own  particular  party  channel.  Should  the 
labor  party  still  persist,  the  old  party  politicians,  whose 
bailiwick  it  will  have  particularly  \invaded,  will  take  care 
to  enqourage.,  by  means  not  always  ethical  but  nearly 
always  effective\strife  in  its  ran^s.  Should  that  fail, 


the  old  parties  will  in  the  end  "fuse"  against  the  upstart 
rival.  If  they  are  able  to  stay  "fused"  during  enough 
elections  and  also  win  them,  the  fidelity  of  the  adherent 
of  the  third  party  is  certain  to  be  put  to  a  hard  and  un- 
successful test.  To  the  outsider  these  conclusions  may 
appear  novel,  but  labor  in  America  learned  these  lessons 
through  a  long  experience,  which  began  when  the  first 
workingmen's  parties  were  attempted  in  1828-1832.  The 
limited  potentialities  of  labor  legislation  together  with 
the  apparent  hopelessness  of  labor  party  politics  com- 
pelled the  American  labor  movement  to  develop  a  sort  of 
non-partisan  political  action  with  limited  objectives  thor- 
oughly characteristic  of  American  conditions.  Labor 
needs  protection  from  interference  by  the  courts  in  the 
exgrcise  of  its  economic  weapons^,  the  strike  and  the 
boycott,  upon  which  it  is  obviously  obliged  to  place  espe- 
cial reliance.  In  other  words,  though  labor  may  refuse 
to  be  drawn  into  the  vortex  of  politics  for  the  sake  of 
positive  attainments,  or,  that  is  to  say,  labor  legislation, 
it  is  compelled  to  do  so  for  the  sake  of  a  negative  gain 
— a  judicial  laissez-faire.  That  labor  does  by  pursuing 
a  policy  of  "jrewardyour  friends"  and ^punish^your 
enemies"  in  the  sphere  of  politics.  The  method  itself  is 
an  ol(f  one  in  the  labor  movement ;  we  saw  it  practiced 
by  George  Henry  Evans  and  the  land  reformers  of  the 
forties  as  well  as  by  Steward  and  the  advocates  of  the 
eight-hour  day  by  law  in  the  sixties.  The  American  Fed- 
eration of  Labor  merely  puts  it  to  use  in  connection  with 
a  new  objective,  namely,  freedom  from  court  interference. 
Although  the  labor  vote  is  largely  "undeliverable,"  still 
where  the  parties  are  more  or  less  evenly  matched  in 
strength,  that  portion  of  the  labor  vote  which  is  politi- 
cally conscious  of  its  economic  interests  may  swing  the 


election  to  whichever  side  it  turns.  Under  certain  con- 
ditions 1  labor  has  been  known  even  to  attain  through  such 
indirection  in  excess  of  what  it  might  have  won  had  it  come 
to  share  in  power  as  a  labor  party. 

The  controversy  around  labor  in  politics  brings  up  in 
the  la«t  analysis  the  whole  problem  of  leadership  in 
labor  orgflT"**'^™"^^  to  be  specific,  the  role  of  the  in- 
tellectual in  the  movement.  In  America  his  role  has  been 
remarkably  restricted.  For  a  half  century  or  more  the 
educated  classes  had  no  connection  with  the  labor  move- 
ment, for  in  the  forties  and  fifties,  when  the  Brook  Farm 
enthusiasts  and  their  associates  took  up  with  fervor  the 
social  question,  they  were  really  alone  in  the  field,  since 
the  protracted  trade  depression  had  laid  all  labor  or- 
ganization low.  It  was  in  the  eighties,  with  the  turmoil 
of  the  Knights  of  Labor  and  the  Anarchist  bomb  in 
Chicago,  that  the  "intellectuals"  first  awakened  to  the 
existence  of  a  labor  problem.  To  this  awakening  no 
single  person  contributed  more  than  the  economist  Pro- 
fessor Richard  T.  Ely,  then  of  Johns  Hopkins  University. 
His  pioneer  work  on  the  Labor  Movement  in  America 
published  in  1886,  and  the  works  of  his  many  capable 
students  gave  the  labor  movement  a  permanent  place  in 
the  public  mind,  besides  presenting  the  cause  of  labor 
with  scientific  precision  and  with  a  judicious  balance. 
Among  the  other  pioneers  were  preachers  like  Washing- 
ton Gladden  and  Lyman  Abbott,  who  conceived  their  duty 
as  that  of  mediators  between  the  business  class  and  the 
wage  earning  class,  exhorting  the  former  to  deal  with 
their  employes  according  to  the  Golden  Rule  and  the 
latter  to  moderation  in  their  demands.  Together  with 
the  economists  they  helped  to  break  down  the  prejudice 

1  Such  as  a  state  of  war;  see  above,  235-236. 


against  labor  unionism  in  so  far  as  the  latter  was  non- 
revolutionary.  And  though  their  influence  was  large,  they 
understood  that  their  maximum  usefulness  would  be 
realized  by  remaining  sympathetic  outsiders  and  not  by 
seeking  to  control  the  course  of  the  labor  movement. 

In  recent  years  a  new  type  of  intellectual  has  come  to 
the  front.  A  product  of  a  more  generalized  mental  envi- 
ronment than  his  predecessor,  he  is  more  daring  in  his 
retrospects  and  his  prospects.  He  is  just  as  ready  to 
advance  an  "economic  interpretation  of  the  constitution" 
as  to  advocate  a  collectivistic  panacea  for  the  existing 
industrial  and  social  ills.  Nor  did  this  new  intellectual 
come  at  an  inopportune  time  for  getting  a  hearing.  Con- 
fidence in  social  conservatism  has  been  undermined  by 
an  exposure  in  the_  press  nT1r>  thrftllgh  Ipgigla+iv*1  in- 
vestigations of  the  disreputable  doings  of  some  of  the 
staunchest  conservatives.  At  such  a  juncture  "pro- 
gressivism"  and  a  "new  liberalism"  were  bound  to 
come  into  their  own  in  the  general  opinion  of  the 

But  the  labor  movement  resisted.  American  labor,  both 
during  the  periods  of  neglect  and  of  moderate  champion- 
ing by  the  older  generation  of  intellectuals,  has  devel- 
oped a  leadership  wholly  its  own.  This  leadership,  of 
which  Samuel  Gompers  is  the  most  notable  example,  has 
given  years  and  years  to  building  up  a  united  fighting 
morale  in  the  army  of  labor.  And  because  the  morale 
of  an  army,  as  these  leaders  thought,  is  strong  only  when 
it  is  united  upon  one  common  attainable  purpose,  the 
intellectual  with  his  new  and  unfamiliar  issues  has  been 
given  the  cold  shoulder  by  precisely  the  trade  unionists  in 
whom  he  had  anticipated  to  find  most  eager  disciples. 
The  intellectual  might  go  from  success  to  success  in  con- 


quering  the  minds  of  the  middle  classes ;  the  labor  move- 
ment largely  remains  closed  to  him. 

To  make  matters  worse  the  intellectual  has  brought 
with  him  a  psychology  which  is  particularly  out  of  fit 
with  the  American  labor  situation.  We  noted  that  the 
American  labor  movement  became  shunted  from  the  po- 
litical arena  into  the  economic  one  by  virtue  of  fundamen- 
tal conditions  of  American  political  institutions  and  po- 
litical life.  However,  it  is  precisely  in  political  activity 
where  the  intellectual  is  most  at  home.  The  clear-cut  logic 
and  symmetry  of  political  platforms  based  on  general 
theories,  the  broad  vistas  which  it  may  be  made  to  encom- 
pass, and  lastly  the  opportunity  for  eloquent  self-ex- 
pression offered  by  parliamentary  debates,  all  taken  to- 
gether exert  a  powerful  attraction  for  the  intellectualized 
mind.  Contrast  with  this  the  prosaic  humdrum  work  of 
a  trade  union  leader,  the  incessant  wrangling  over  "small" 
details  and  "petty"  grievances,  and  the  case  becomes  ex- 
ceedingly clear.  The  mind  of  the  typical  intellectual  is 
too  generalized  to  be  lured  by  any  such  alternative.  He 
is  out  of  patience  with  mere  amelioration,  even  though 
it  may  mean  much  in  terms  of  human  happiness  to  the 
worker  and  his  family. 

When  in  19, 06.  in  consequence  of  the  heaping  up  of 
legal  disabilities  upon  the  trade  unions,  American  labor 
leaders  turned  to  politics  to  seek  a  restraining  hand  upon 
the  courts,1  the  intellectuals  foresaw  a  political  labor 
party  in  the  not  distant  future.  They  predicted  that  one 
step  would  inevitably  lead  to  another,  that  from  a  policy 
of  bartering  with  the  old  parties  for  anti-injunction 
planks  in  their  platforms,  labor  would  turn  to  a  political 
party  of  its  own.  The  intellectual  critic  continues  to 

1  See  above,  203-204. 


view  the  political  action  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  as  the  first  steps  of  an  invalid  learning  to  walk; 
and  hopes  that  before  long  he  will  learn  to  walk  with 
a  firmer  step,  without  feeling  tempted  to  lean  upon 
the  only  too  willing  shoulders  of  old-party  politi- 
cians. On  the  contrary,  the  Federation  leaders,  as 
we  know,  regard  their  political  work  as  a  necessary 
evil,  due  to  an  unfortunate  turn  of  affairs,  which 
forces  them  from  time  to  time  to  step  out  of  their  own 
trade  union  province  in  order  that  their  natural  enemy, 
the  employing  class,  might  get  no  aid  and  comfort  from 
an  outside  ally. 

Of  late  a  rapprochement  between  the  intellectual  and 
trade  unionist  has  begun  to  take  place.  However,  it  is 
not  founded  on  the  relationship  of  leader  and  led,  but 
only  on  a  business  relationship,  or  that  of  giver  and  re- 
ceiver of  paid  technical  advice.  The  role  of  the  trained 
economist  in  handling  statistics  and  preparing  "cases" 
for  trade  unionists  before  boards  of  arbitration  is 
coming  to  be  more  and  more  appreciated.  The  rail- 
way men's  organizations  were  first  to  put  the  intellec- 
tual to  this  use,  the  miners  and  others  followed.  From 
this  it  is  still  a  far  cry  to  the  role  of  such  intellectuals 
as  Sidney  and  Beatrice  Webb,  G.  D.  H.  Cole  and  the 
Fabian  Research  group  in  England,  who  have  really 
permeated  the  British  labor  movement  with  their  views 
on  labor  policy.  However,  there  is  also  a  place  for  the 
American  intellectual  as  an  ally  of  trade  unionism,  not 
only  as  its  paid  servant.  The  American  labor  move- 
ment has  committed  a  grave  and  costly  error  because  it 
has  not  made  use  of  the  services  of  writers^  journalists, 
lecturers,  and  speakers  to  popularize  its  cause  with  the 
general  public.  Some  of  its  recent  defeats,  notably  the 


steel  strike  of  1919,  were  partly  due  to  the  neglect 
to  provide  a  sufficient  organization  of  labor  pub- 
licity to  counteract  the  anti-union  publicity  by  the 



The  rise  of  a  political  and  economic  dictatorship  by 
the  wage-earning  class  in  revolutionary  Russia  in  1917 
has  focussed  public  opinion  on  the  labor  question  as  no 
other  event  ever  did.  But  one  will  scarcely  say  that  it 
has  tended  to  clarity  of  thought.  On  the  one  hand,  the 
conservative  feels  confirmed  in  his  old  suspicions  that 
there  is  something  inherently  revolutionary  in  any  labor 
movement.  The  extreme  radical,  on  the  other  hand,  is 
as  uncritically  hopeful  for  a  Bolshevist  upheaval  in 
America  as  the  conservative  or  reactionary  is  uncritically 
fearful.  Both  forget  that  an  effective  social  revolution 
is  not  the  product  of  mere  chance  and  "mob  psychology," 
nor  even  of  propaganda  however  assiduous,  but  always  of 
a  new  preponderance  of  power  as  between  contending 
economic  classes. 

To  students  of  the  social  sciences,  it  is  self-evident 
that  the  prolonged  rule  of  the  proletariat  in  Russia  in 
defiance  of  nearly  the  whole  world  must  be  regarded  as 
a  product  of  Russian  life,  past  and  present.  In  fact, 
the  continued  Bolshevist  rule  seems  to  be  an  index  of 
the  relative  fighting  strength  of  the  several  classes  in 
Russian  society — the  industrial  proletariat,  the  landed 
and  industrial  propertied  class,  and  the  peasantry. 

It  is  an  irony  of  fate  that  the  same  revolution  which 
purports  to  enact  into  life  the  Marxian  social  program 



should  belie  the  truth  of  Marx's  materialistic  interpreta- 
tion of  history  and  demonstrate  that  history  is  shaped 
by  both  economic  and  non-economic  forces.  Marx,  as  is 
well  known,  taught  that  history  is  a  struggle  between 
classes,  in  which  the  landed  aristocracy,  the  capitalist 
class,  and  the  wage  earning  class  are  raised  successively 
to  rulership  as,  with  the  progress  of  society's  technical 
equipment,  first  one  and  then  another  class  can  operate 
it  with  the  maximum  efficiency.  Marx  assumed  that  when 
the  time  has  arrived  for  a  given  economic  class  to  take 
the  helm,  that  class  will  be  found  in  full  possession  of 
all  the  psychological  attributes  of  a  ruling  class,  namely, 
an  indomitable  will  to  power,  no  less  than  the  more  vulgar 
desire  for  the  emoluments  that  come  with  power.  Ap- 
parently, Marx  took  for  granted  that  economic  evolu- 
tion is  inevitably  accompanied  by  a  corresponding  de- 
velopment of  an  effective  will  to  power  in  the  class  des- 
tined to  rule.  Yet,  whatever  may  be  the  case  in  the  coun- 
tries of  the  West,  in  Russia  the  ruling  classes,  the  gentry 
and  the  capitalists,  clearly  failed  in  the  psychological 
test  at  the  critical  time.  This  failure  is  amply  attested 
by  the  manner  in  which  they  submitted  practically  with- 
out a  fight  after  the  Bolshevist  coup  d'etat. 

To  get  at  the  secret  of  this  apparent  feebleness  and 
want  of  spunk  in  Russia's  ruling  class  one  must  study  a 
peculiarity  of  her  history,  namely,  the  complete  domi- 
nance of  Russia's  development  by  organized  government. 
Where  the  historian  of  the  Western  countries  must  take 
account  of  several  independent  forces,  each  standing  for 
a  social  class,  the  Russian  historian  may  well  afford 
to  station  himself  on  the  high  peak  of  government  and, 
from  this  point  of  vantage,  survey  the  hills  and  vales  of 
the  society  which  it  so  thoroughly  dominated. 


Apolitism  runs  like  a  red  thread  through  the  pages  of 
Russian  history.     Even  the  upper  layer  of  the  old  noble 
class,  the  "Boyars,"  were  but  a  shadow  of  the  Western 
contemporary  medieval  landed  aristocracy.     When  the 
several  principalities  became  united  with   the  Czardom 
of  Muscovy  many  centuries  ago,  the  Boyar  was  in  fact 
no  more  than  a  steward  of  the  Czar's  estate  and  a  leader 
of  a  posse  defending  his  property;  the  most  he  dared  to 
do  was  surreptitiously  to  obstruct  the  carrying  out  of 
the  Czar's  intentions;  he  dared  not  try  to  impose  the 
will  of  his  class  upon  the  crown.     The  other  classes  were 
even  more  apolitical.     So  little  did  the  several  classes 
aspire  to  domination  that  they  missed  many  golden  op- 
portunities  to  seize   and  hold  a  share  of  the  political 
power.    In  the  seventeenth  century,  when  the  government 
was    exceptionally   weak    after    what    is    known    as    the 
"period  of  troubles,"  it  convoked  periodical  "assemblies 
of  the  land"  to  help  administer  the  country.     But,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  these  assemblies  considered  themselves  ill 
used  because  they  were  asked  to  take  part  in  government 
and  not  once  did  they  aspire  to  an  independent  position  in 
the  Russian  body   politic.     Another  and  perhaps   even 
more  striking  instance  we  find  a  century  and  a  half  later. 
Catherine  the  Great  voluntarily  turned  over  the  local  ad- 
ministration to  the  nobles  and  to  that  end  decreed  that 
the  nobility  organize  themselves  into  provincial  associa- 
tions.    But  so  little  did  the  nobility  care  for  political 
power  and  active  class  prerogative  that,  in  spite  of  the 
broadest  possible  charters,  the  associations  of  nobles  were 
never  more  than  social  organizations  in  the  conventional 
sense  of  the  word. 

Even  less  did  the  commercial  class  aspire  to  indepen- 
dence.   In  the  West  of  Europe  mercantilism  answered  in 


an  equal  measure  the  needs  of  an  expanding  state  and  of 
a  vigorous  middle  class,  the  latter  being  no  less  ardent  in 
the  pursuit  of  gain  than  the  former  in  the  pursuit  of  con- 
quest. In  Russia,  on  the  other  hand,  when  Peter  the 
Great  wanted  manufacturing,  he  had  to  introduce  it  by 
government  action.  Hence,  Russian  mercantilism  was 
predominantly  a  state  mercantilism.  Even  where  Peter 
succeeded  in  enlisting  private  initiative  by  subsidies,  in- 
stead of  building  up  a  class  of  independent  manufac- 
turers, he  merely  created  industrial  parasites  and  bureau- 
crats without  initiative  of  their  own,  who  forever  kept 
looking  to  the  government. 

Coming  to  more  recent  times,  we  find  that  the  modern 
Russian  factory  system  likewise  owes  its  origin  to  gov- 
ernmental initiative,  namely,  to  the  government's  railway- 
building  policy.  The  government  built  the  railways  for 
strategic  and  fiscal  reasons  but  incidentally  created  a 
unified  internal  market  which  made  mass-production  of 
articles  of  common  consumption  profitable  for  the  first 
time.  But,  even  after  Russian  capitalism  was  thus 
enabled  to  stand  on  its  own  feet,  it  did  not  unlearn  the 
habit  of  leaning  on  the  government  for  advancement 
rather  than  relying  on  its  own  efforts.  On  its  part  the 
autocratic  government  was  loath  to  let  industry  alone. 
The  government  generously  dispensed  to  the  capitalists 
tariff  protection  and  bounties  in  the  form  of  profitable 
orders,  but  insisted  on  keeping  industry  under  its  thumb. 
And  though  they  might  chafe,  still  the  capitalists  never 
neglected  to  make  the  best  of  the  situation.  For  instance, 
when  the  sugar  producers  found  themselves  running  into 
a  hole  from  cut-throat  competition,  they  appealed  to  the 
Minister  of  Finances,  who  immediately  created  a  govern- 
ment-enforced "trust"  and  assured  them  huge  dividends. 


Since  business  success  was  assured  by  keeping  on  the 
proper  footing  with  a  generous  government  rather  than 
by  relying  on  one's  own  vigor,  it  stands  to  reason  that, 
generally  speaking,  the  capitalists  and  especially  the 
larger  capitalists,  could  develop  only  into  a  class  of  in- 
dustrial courtiers.  And  when  at  last  the  autocracy  fell, 
the  courtiers  were  not  to  be  turned  overnight  into  stub- 
born champions  of  the  rights  of  their  class  amid  the 
turmoil  of  a  revolution.  To  be  sure,  Russia  had  entered 
the  capitalistic  stage  as  her  Marxians  had  predicted,  but 
nevertheless  her  capitalists  were  found  to  be  lacking  the 
indomitable  will  to  power  which  makes  a  ruling  class. 

The  weakness  of  the  capitalists  in  the  fight  on  behalf 
of  private  property  may  be  explained  in  part  by  their 
want  of  allies  in  the  other  classes  in  the  community.  The 
Russian  peasant,  reared  in  the  atmosphere  of  communal 
land  ownership,  was  far  from  being  a  fanatical  defender 
of  private  property.  No  Thiers  could  have  rallied  a  Rus- 
sian peasant  army  for  the  suppression  of  a  communistic 
industrial  wage-earning  class  by  an  appeal  to  their  prop- 
erty instinct.  To  make  matters  worse  for  the  capitalists, 
the  peasant's  strongest  craving  was  for  more  land,  all 
the  land,  without  compensation!  This  the  capitalists, 
being  capitalists,  were  unable  to  grant.  Yet  it  was  the 
only  sort  of  currency  which  the  peasant  would  accept  in 
payment  for  his  political  support.  In  November,  1917, 
when  the  Bolsheviki  seized  the  government,  one  of  their 
first  acts  was  to  satisfy  the  peasant's  land  hunger  by 
turning  over  to  his  use  all  the  land.  The  "proletariat" 
had  then  a  free  hand  so  far  as  the  most  numerous  class 
in  Russia  was  concerned. 

Just  as  the  capitalist  class  reached  the  threshold  of 
the  revolution  psychologically  below  par,  so  the  wage- 


earning  class  in  developing  the  will  to  rule  outran  all 
expectations  and  beat  the  Marxian  time-schedule.  Among 
the  important  contributing  factors  was  the  unity  of  the 
industrial  laboring  class,  a  unity  broken  by  no  rifts  be- 
tween highly  paid  skilled  groups  and  an  inferior  unskilled 
class,  or  between  a  well-organized  labor  aristocracy  and 
an  unorganized  helot  class.  The  economic  and  social 
oppression  under  the  old  regime  had  seen  to  it  that  no 
group  of  laborers  should  possess  a  stake  in  the  existing 
order  or  desire  to  separate  from  the  rest.  Moreover,  for 
several  decades,  and  especially  since  the  memorable  days 
of  the  revolution  of  1905,  the  laboring  class  has  been 
filled  by  socialistic  agitators  and  propagandists  with 
ideas  of  the  great  historical  role  of  the  proletariat.  The 
writer  remembers  how  in  1905  even  newspapers  of  the 
moderately  liberal  stamp  used  to  speak  of  the  "heroic 
proletariat  marching  in  the  van  of  Russia's  progress." 
No  wonder  then  that,  when  the  revolution  came,  the  in- 
dustrial wage  earners  had  developed  such  self-confidence 
as  a  class  that  they  were  tempted  to  disregard  the  dictum 
of  their  intellectual  mentors  that  this  was  merely  to  be  a 
bourgeois  revolution — with  the  social  revolution  still  re- 
mote. Instead  they  listened  to  the  slogan  "All  power 
to  the  Soviets." 

The  idea  of  the  "dictatorship  of  the  proletariat" 
reached  maturity  in  the  course  of  the  abortive  revolution 
of  1905-1906.  After  a  victory  for  the  people  in  October, 
1905,  the  bourgeoisie  grew  frightened  over  the  aggressive- 
ness of  the  wage-earning  class  and  sought  safety  in  an 
understanding  with  the  autocracy.  An  order  by  the 
Soviet  of  Petrograd  workmen  in  November,  1905,  de- 
creeing the  eight-hour  day  in  all  factories  sufficed  to  make 
the  capitalists  forego  their  historical  role  of  champions 


of  popular  liberty  against  autocracy.  If  the  bourgeoisie 
itself  will  not  fight  for  a  democracy,  reasoned  the  revolu- 
tionary socialists,  why  have  such  a  democracy  at  all? 
Have  we  not  seen  the  democratic  form  of  government  lend 
itself  to  ill-concealed  plutocracy  in  Europe  and  America? 
Why  run  at  all  the  risk  of  corruption  of  the  post- 
revolutionary  government  at  the  hands  of  the  capitalists? 
Why  first  admit  the  capitalists  into  the  inner  circle  and 
then  spend  time  and  effort  in  preventing  them  from  com- 
ing to  the  top?  Therefore,  they  declined  parliamentarism 
with  thanks  and  would  accept  nothing  less  than  a  govern- 
ment by  the  representative  organ  of  the  workers — the 

If  we  are  right  in  laying  the  emphasis  on  the  relative 
fighting  will  and  fighting  strength  of  the  classes  strug- 
gling for  power  rather  than  on  the  doctrines  which  they 
preach  and  the  methods,  fair  or  foul,  which  they  practice, 
then  the  American  end  of  the  problem,  too,  appears  in  a 
new  light.  No  longer  is  it  in  the  main  a  matter  of  taking 
sides  for  or  against  the  desirability  of  a  Bolshevist  rule 
or  a  dictatorship  by  the  proletariat,  but  a  matter  of  as- 
certaining the  relative  strength  and  probable  behavior  of 
the  classes  in  a  given  society.  It  is  as  futile  to  "see  red" 
in  America  because  of  Bolshevism  in  Russia  as  to  yearn 
for  Bolshevism's  advent  in  the  United  States.  Either 
view  misses  the  all-important  point  that  so  far  as  social 
structure  is  concerned  America  is  the  antipodes  of  Rus- 
sia, where  the  capitalists  have  shown  little  fighting  spirit, 
where  the  tillers  of  the  soil  are  only  first  awakening  to  a 
conscious  desire  for  private  property  and  are  willing  to 
forego  their  natural  share  in  government  for  a  gift  of 
land,  and  where  the  industrial  proletariat  is  the  only 
class  ready  and  unafraid  to  fight.  Bolshevism  is  unthink- 


able  in  America,  because,  even  if  by  some  imaginable 
accident  the  government  were  overthrown  and  a  labor 
dictatorship  declared,  it  could  never  "stay  put."  No 
one  who  knows  the  American  business  class  will  even  dream 
that  it  would  under  any  circumstances  surrender  to  a 
revolution  perpetrated  by  a  minority,  or  that  it  would 
wait  for  foreign  intervention  before  starting  hostilities. 
A  Bolshevist  coup  d'etat  in  America  would  mean  a  civil 
war  to  the  bitter  end,  and  a  war  in  which  the  numerous 
class  of  farmers  would  join  the  capitalists  in  the  defense 
of  the  institution  of  private  property.1 

But  it  is  not  only  because  the  preponderance  of  social 
power  in  the  United  States  is  so  decisively  with  private 
property  that  America  is  proof  against  a  social  upheaval 
like  the  Russian  one.  Another  and  perhaps  as  important 
a  guarantee  of  her  social  stability  is  found  in  her  four 
million  organized  trade  unionists.  For,  however  unjustly 
they  may  feel  to  have  been  treated  by  the  employers  or 
the  government;  however  slow  they  may  find  the  realiza- 
tion of  their  ideals  of  collective  bargaining  in  industry; 
their  stakes  in  the  existing  order,  both  spiritual  and  ma- 
terial, are  too  big  to  reconcile  them  to  revolution.  The 

1  Though  writers  and  public  speakers  of  either  extreme  have  often 
overlooked  the  fundamental  consideration  of  where  the  preponder- 
ance of  social  power  lies  in  their  prognostications  of  revolutions,  this 
has  not  escaped  the  leaders  of  the  American  labor  movement.  The 
vehemence  with  which  the  leaders  of  the  American  Federation  of 
Labor  have  denounced  Sovietism  and  Bolshevism,  and  which  has  of 
late  been  brought  to  a  high  pitch  by  a  fear  lest  a  shift  to  radicalism 
should  break  up  the  organization,  is  doubtless  sincere.  But  one 
cannot  help  feeling  that  in  part  at  least  it  aimed  to  reassure  the 
great  American  middle  class  on  the  score  of  labor's  intentions.  The 
great  majority  of  organized  labor  realize  that,  though  at  times  they 
may  risk  engaging  in  unpopular  strikes,  it  will  never  do  to  permit 
their  enemies  to  tar  them  with  the  pitch  of  subversionism  in  the  eyes 
of  the  great  American  majority — a  majority  which  remains  wedded 
to  the  regime  of  private  property  and  individual  enterprise  despite 
the  many  recognized  shortcomings  of  the  institution. 


truth  is  that  the  revolutionary  labor  movement  in  America 
looms  up  much  bigger  than  it  actually  is.  Though  in 
many  strikes  since  the  famous  textile  strike  in  Lawrence, 
Massachusetts,  in  1911,  the  leadership  was  revolutionary, 
it  does  not  follow  that  the  rank  and  file  was  animated  by 
the  same  purpose.  Given  an  inarticulate  mass  of 
grievously  exploited  workers  speaking  many  foreign 
tongues  and  despised  alike  by  the  politician,  the  police- 
man, and  the  native  American  labor  organizer;  given  a 
group  of  energetic  revolutionary  agitators  who  make  the 
cause  of  these  workers  their  own  and  become  their  spokes- 
men and  leaders ;  and  a  situation  will  clearly  arise  where 
thousands  of  workmen  will  be  apparently  marshalled 
under  the  flag  of  revolution  while  in  reality  it  is  the  desire 
for  a  higher  wage  and  not  for  a  realization  of  the 
syndicalist  program  that  reconciles  them  to  starving  their 
wives  and  children  and  to  shedding  their  blood  on  picket 
duty.  If  they  follow  a  Haywood  or  an  Ettor,  it  is  pre- 
cisely because  they  have  been  ignored  by  a  Golden  or  a 

Withal,  then,  trade  unionism,  despite  an  occasional 
revolutionary  facet  and  despite  a  revolutionary  clamor 
especially  on  its  fringes,  is  a  conservative  social  force. 
Trade  unionism  seems  to  have  the  same  moderating  effect 
upon  society  as  a  wide  diffusion  of  private  property.  In 
fact  the  gains  of  trade  unionism  are  to  the  worker  on  a 
par  with  private  property  to  its  owner.  The  owner  re- 
gards his  property  as  a  protective  dyke  between  himself 
and  a  ruthless  biological  struggle  for  existence ;  his  prop- 
erty means  liberty  and  opportunity  to  escape  dictation 
by  another  man,  an  employer  or  "boss,"  or  at  least  a 
chance  to  bide  his  time  until  a  satisfactory  alternative 
has  presented  itself  for  his  choice.  The  French  peasants 


in  1871  who  flocked  to  the  army  of  the  government  of 
Versailles  to  suppress  the  Commune  of  Paris  (the  first 
attempt  in  history  of  a  proletarian  dictatorship),  did  so 
because  they  felt  that  were  the  workingmen  to  triumph 
and  abolish  private  property,  they,  the  peasants,  would 
lose  a  support  in  their  daily  struggle  for  life  for  the 
preservation  of  which  it  was  worth  endangering  life  itself. 
And  having  acquired  relative  protection  in  their  private 
property,  small  though  it  might  be,  they  were  unwilling 
to  permit  something  which  were  it  to  succeed  would  lose 
them  their  all. 

Now  with  some  exceptions  every  human  being  is  a  "pro- 
tectionist," provided  he  does  possess  anything  at  all  which 
protects  him  and  which  is  therefore  worth  being  pro- 
tected by  him  in  turn.  The  trade  unionist,  too,  is  just 
such  a  protectionist.  When  his  trade  union  has  had  the 
time  and  opportunity  to  win  for  him  decent  wages  and 
living  conditions,  a  reasonable  security  of  the  job,  and 
at  least  a  partial  voice  in  shop  management,  he  will,  on 
the  relatively  high  and  progressive  level  of  material  wel- 
fare which  capitalism  has  called  into  being,  be  chary  to 
raze  the  existing  economic  system  to  the  ground  on  the 
chance  of  building  up  a  better  one  in  its  place.  A  re- 
shuffling of  the  cards,  which  a  revolution  means,  might 
conceivably  yield  him  a  better  card,  but  then  again  it 
might  make  the  entire  stack  worthless  by  destroying  the 
stakes  for  which  the  game  is  played.  But  the  revolution 
might  not  even  succeed  in  the  first  round;  then  the  en- 
suing reaction  would  probably  destroy  the  trade  union 
and  with  it  would  go  the  chance  of  a  recovery  of  the 
original  ground,  modest  though  that  may  have  been.  In 
practice,  therefore,  the  trade  union  movements  in  nearly 


all  nations  l  have  served  as  brakes  upon  the  respective 
national  socialist  movements ;  and,  from  the  standpoint  of 
society  interested  in  its  own  preservation  against  catas- 
trophic change,  have  played  and  are  playing  a  role  of 
society's  policemen  and  watch-dogs  over  the  more  revolu- 
tionary groups  in  the  wage-earning  class.  These  are 
largely  the  unorganized  and  ill-favored  groups  rendered 
reckless  because,  having  little  to  lose  from  a  revolution, 
whatever  the  outcome  might  be,  they  fear  none. 

In  America,  too,  there  is  a  revolutionary  class  which, 
unlike  the  striking  textile  workers  in  1911-1913,  owes  its 
origin  neither  to  chance  nor  to  neglect  by  trade  union 
leaders.  This  is  the  movement  of  native  American  or 
Americanized  workers  in  the  outlying  districts  of  the 
West  or  South — the  typical  I.  W.  W.,  the  migratory 
workers,  the  industrial  rebels,  and  the  actors  in  many 
labor  riots  and  lumber-field  strikes.  This  type  of  worker 
has  truly  broken  with  America's  spiritual  past.  He  has 
become  a  revolutionist  either  because  his  personal  char- 
acter and  habits  unfit  him  for  success  under  the  exacting 
capitalistic  system;  or  because,  starting  out  with  the 
ambitions  and  rosy  expectations  of  the  early  pioneer,  he 
found  his  hopes  thwarted  by  a  capitalistic  preemptor  of 
the  bounty  of  nature,  who  dooms  to  a  wage-earner's  posi- 
tion all  who  came  too  late.  In  either  case  he  is  animated 
by  a  genuine  passion  for  revolution,  a  passion  which 
admits  no  compromise.  Yet  his  numbers  are  too  few  to 
threaten  the  existing  order. 

In   conclusion,   American   trade   unionism,   no   matter 

whether  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  keeps  its  old 

leaders  or  replaces  them  by  "progressives"  or  socialists, 

seems  in  a  fair  way  to  continue  its  conservative  function 

1  Notably  in  Germany  since  the  end  of  the  World  War. 


— so  long  as  no  overpowering  open-shop  movement  or 
"trustification"  will  break  up  the  trade  unions  or  render 
them  sterile.  The  hope  of  American  Bolshevism  will, 
therefore,  continue  to  rest  with  the  will  of  employers  to 
rule  as  autocrats. 


The  first  seven  chapters  of  the  present  work  are  based  on 
the  History  of  Labour  in  the  United  States  by  John  R.  Com- 
mons and  Associates,1  published  in  1918  in  two  volumes  by 
the  Macmillan  Company,  New  York.  The  major  portion  of 
the  latter  was  in  turn  based  on  A  Documentary  History  of 
the  American  Industrial  Society,  edited  by  Professor  Com- 
mons and  published  in  1910  in  ten  volumes  by  Clark  and 
Company,  Cleveland.  In  preparing  chapters  8  to  11,  dealing 
with  the  period  since  1897,  which  is  not  covered  in  the  His- 
tory of  Labour,  the  author  used  largely  the  same  sort  of 
material  as  that  in  the  preparation  of  the  above  named  works ; 
namely,  original  sources  such  as  proceedings  of  trade  union 
conventions,  labor  and  employer  papers,  government  reports, 
etc.  There  are,  however,  many  excellent  special  histories 
relating  to  the  recent  period  in  the  labor  movement,  especially 
histories  of  unionism  in  individual  trades  or  industries,  to 
which  the  author  wishes  to  refer  the  reader  for  more  ample 
accounts  of  the  several  phases  of  the  subject,  which  he  himself 
was  of  necessity  obliged  to  treat  but  briefly.  The  following  is 
a  selected  list  of  such  works  together  with  some  others  relating 
to  earlier  periods: 

BARNETT,  GEORGE  E.,  The  Printers — A  Study  in  American 
Trade  Unionism,  American  Economic  Association,  1909. 

BING,  ALEXANDER  M.,  War-Time  Strikes  and  their  Adjust- 
ment, Button  and  Co.,  1921. 

BONNETT,  CLARENCE  E.,  Employers'  Associations  in  the 
United  States,  Macmillan,  1922. 

BRISSENDEN,  PAUL  F.,  The  I.  W.  W. — A  Study  in  American 
Syndicalism,  Columbia  University,  1920. 

BROOKS,  JOHN  G.,  American  Syndicalism:  The  7.  W.  W., 
Macmillan,  1913. 

BUDISH  AND  SOULE,  The  New  Unionism  in  the  Clothing  In- 
dustry, Harcourt,  1920. 

*See  Author's  Preface. 



CARLTON,  FRANK  T.,  Economic  Influences  upon  Educational 
Progress  in  the  United  States,  1820-1850,  University  of 
Wisconsin,  1908. 

DEIBLER,  FREDERICK  S.,  The  Amalgamated  Wood  Workers' 
International  Union  of  America,  University  of  Wiscon- 
sin, 1912. 

FITCH,  JOHN  L.,  The  Steel  Workers,  Russell  Sage  Founda- 
tion, 1911. 

HOAGLAND,  HENRY  E.,  Wage  Bargaining  on  the  Fessels  of 
the  Great  Lakes,  University  of  Illinois,  1915. 

Collective  Bargaining  in  the  Lithographic  Industry, 

Columbia  University,  1917. 

INTERCHURCH  WORLD  MOVEMENT,  Commission  of  Inquiry, 
Report  on  the  Steel  Strike  of  1919,  Harcourt,  1920. 

LAIDLER,  HARRY,  Socialism  in  Thought  and  Action,  Macmil- 
lan,  1920. 

ROBBINS,  EDWIN  C.,  Railway  Conductors — A  Study  in  Or- 
ganized Labor,  Columbia  University,  1914. 

SCHLUTER,  HERMAN,  The  Brewing  Industry  and  the  Brewery 
Workmen's  Movement  in  America,  International  Union 
of  Brewery  Workmen,  1910. 

SUFFERN,  ARTHUR  E.,  Conciliation  and  Arbitration  in  the 
Coal  Mining  Industry  in  America,  Mifflin,  1915. 

SYDENSTRICKER,  EDGAR,  Collective  Bargaining  in  the  Anthra- 
cite Coal  Industry,  Bulletin  No.  191  of  the  United  States 
Bureau  of  Labor  Statistics,  1916. 

WOLMAN,  LEO,  The  Boycott  in  American  Trade  Unions,  Johns 
Hopkins  University,  1916. 

Labor  Encyclopedias: 

AMERICAN    FEDERATION    OF    LABOR,    History,    Encyclopedia, 

Reference  Book,  American  Federation  of  Labor,  1919. 
BROWNE,  WALDO  R.,  What's  What  in  the  Labor  Movement, 

Huebsch,  1921. 



Adair  Case,  202. 

Adamson  Law,  232. 

Agrarianism,  "equal  division," 
13;  homestead  movement,  35. 

Amalgamated  Clothing  Workers' 
Union  of  America,  220,  247, 

American  Anti-Boycott  League, 

American  Federation  of  Labor, 
departments,  223 ;  eight-hour 
movement,  1890,  131;  interna- 
tional labor  movement,  242; 
politics,  139,  203;  origin  of 
program,  77;  Reconstruction, 
242;  shorter  hours  by  law,  199; 
socialism,  140;  structure,  119, 
122;  Trade  Union  Inter- 
national, 261;  unskilled,  116, 
216;  use  of  government,  202; 
World  War,  233;  see  Federa- 
tion of  Organized  Trades  and 
Labor  Unions  of  the  United 
States  and  Canada. 

American  Labor  Union,  214. 

"American   Plan,"  252. 

American  Railway  Union,  137. 

Anarchists,  Chicago,  79. 

Anthracite  Coal  Strike  Commis- 
sion, 176. 

Arbitration,  see  Collective  Bar- 
gaining; see  Railway  Men. 


Banks,  complaints  against,  11,  28. 
Bargaining     Theory     of     Labor 

Movement,  266. 
Barnett,  George  E.,  164. 
Bascom,  John,  72. 
Benevolent  Societies,  7. 

Berger,  Victor,  212. 

Black  International,  79. 

Blacklist,  laws  of,  154. 

Bolshevism,  in  Russia,  295;  In 
America,  301. 

Boycott,  in  the  eighties,  85;  law 
of,  155,  258;  the  Theiss,  101. 

Brisbane,  Albert,  29. 

British  Trade  Union  Congress, 

British  Unions,  139. 

Brook  Farm,  29. 

Bryan,  William  J.,  141,  205. 

Buck's  Stove  and  Range  Com- 
pany Case,  202. 

Building  Strikes,  255. 

Business  Cycles,  effects  on  co8p- 
erative  movement,  277;  effects 
on  labor  movement,  276. 

Carey,   Mathew,   20. 

Carnegie     Steel    Company,    133, 

Carpenters,  first  strike,  3;  strike 

in  1825,  8;  national  eight-hour 

strike,   132. 
Central    Competitive    Field,    see 


Check-off,  169  note,  178,  179. 
Chinese,  agitation  against,  62. 
Cigar  Makers'  International 

Union,  68,  76,  78,  117. 
Citizens'  Alliances,  195. 
City  Central  Labor  Bodies,  first 

on   record,  9;   in   the   thirties, 

20;  in  the  sixties,  43. 
Clayton  Act,  226,  257. 
Cleveland,  Grover,  135,  139. 
Closed  Shop,  early,  6;  in  court, 





Collective  Bargaining,  176;  in 
stove  molding,  142. 

Commonwealth  v.  Hunt,  151. 

Communist  Manifesto,  73. 

Compulsory  Military  Service,  12. 

Concerted  Movements,  183. 

Conspiracy,  early  cases,  6,  8,  25, 
147,  155;  see  Injunctions,  Sher- 
man Anti-Trust  Law,  and 
Clayton  Act. 

Cooper,  Peter,  58. 

Cooperation,  consumers'  in  Eu- 
rope, 64  note;  effect  of  busi- 
ness cycles  upon,  277;  con- 
sumers', early,  32;  consumers', 
Sovereigns  of  Industry,  62,  63, 
64;  consumers',  causes  of  fail- 
ure, 65;  producers',  early,  30; 
producers',  in  the  sixties,  52; 
and  the  Knights  of  Labor,  71 ; 
producers',  in  the  eighties,  125; 
producers',  Minneapolis  Coop- 
ers, 56;  producers',  causes  of 
failure  of,  127,  128. 

Coppage  Case,  257. 

Coronado  Case,  259. 

Cost  of  Living,  rise  of,  in  the 
thirties,  19;  during  Civil  War, 

Courts,  see  Conspiracy,  Incorpor- 
ation, Injunctions,  Sherman 
Anti-Trust  Law,  and  Clayton 

Craft  Autonomy,  122. 

Danbury  Hatters'  Case,  195,  202. 

Declaration  of  Independence,  ef- 
fect on  labor  movement,  279. 

Debs,  Eugene  V.,  137,  156,  159, 

DeLeon,  Daniel,  210. 

Duplex  Printing  Case,  258. 


Earle,  William  H.,  62. 

Education,  early  conditions,  14; 
industrial,  14;  "State  Guard- 
ianship," 15. 

Eight-Hour  Leagues,  46. 

Ely,  Richard  T.,  72,  290. 

Emerson,  Ralph  Waldo,  29. 

Employers'  Associations,  early,  6, 
8;  in  the  thirties,  25;  in  the 
sixties,  43;  in  the  eighties,  94; 
in  stove  industry,  142;  open- 
shop  movement,  194,  252. 

Erdman  Act,  183. 

Esch  Cummings  Law,  253. 

Evans,  George  Henry,  35. 

Factory  System,  early  reaction 
against,  16;  early  strikes,  24. 

Factory  Workers,  first  organiza- 
tion of,  7. 

Farmer-Labor  Party,  261. 

Federation  of  Organized  Trades 
and  Labor  Unions  of  the 
United  States  and  Canada,  111. 

Fourierism,  29. 

Frick,  Henry  C.,  133. 


George,    Henry,    campaign    for 

mayor,  102. 
Gompers,   Samuel,   71,   112,    117, 

119,    135,    140,    202,    203,    204, 

205,    206,    208,    209,    210,    291; 

characterization  of,  76. 
Gould,  Jay,  84,  86,  96. 
Grant,  U.  S.,  48. 
Greeley,   Horace,   29,  38,   57. 
Greenbackism,    parties,    58,    60; 

philosophy,  51,  282. 
Greenbacks,  42. 


Haywood,  William  D.,  214,  303. 
Hewitt,  Abram  S.,  103. 
Hitchman  Case,  170,  257. 
Homestead  Movement,  281;  phi- 
losophy of,  36. 
Homestead  Exemption,  39. 
Homestead  Strike,  133. 

Immigration,  85,  179,  221. 
Imprisonment  for  Debt,  11. 
Incorporation,  112,  152. 
Industrial  Government,  see  Col- 
lective  Bargaining. 



Industrial  Unionism,  137,  217. 

Industrial  Workers  of  the  World, 
208,  212,  214,  303,  305. 

Injunctions,  138,  169,  170; 
"blanket,"  160;  legal  theory  of, 
156;  bills,  201;  planks,  204;  see 
Clayton  Act. 

Intellectuals,  in  the  forties,  29; 
role  of,  290. 

Interchurch  World  Movement, 

International  Building  Trades' 
Council,  222. 

International  Industrial  Assem- 
bly, 43. 

International  Ladies'  Garment 
Workers'  Union,  220. 

International  Workingmen's  As- 
sociation, 72,  73. 

Interstate  Commerce  Act,   156. 

Iron  and  Steel  Workers,  Amalga- 
mated Association  of,  130,  133, 
142,  153,  197. 

Jackson,  Andrew,  27. 
Jacksonian  Democracy,  influence 

on  labor,  9,  10. 
Jefferson,  Thomas,  279. 
Johnson,  Andrew,  38,  48. 
Jurisdictional   disputes,  223. 

Kansas  Industrial  Relations 
Court,  252. 

Knights  of  Labor,  and  alien  con- 
tract labor  law,  89;  cooperative 
program,  71;  "First  prin- 
ciples," 70,  125;  "one  big 
union,"  106,  114;  preamble, 
70;  producers'  cooperation, 
125;  ritual,  68;  secrecy,  69; 
skilled  in,  123;  structure,  113, 
121;  and  unskilled,  84,  115, 
118,  122;  water-front  strike  of 
1887,  98. 

Knights  of  St.  Crispin,  56,  115, 

Labor  Management,  247. 

Labor   Politics,  in   the   twenties, 

17,  21;  in  the  thirties,  28;  pol- 
icy of  pressure,  37,  289;  Na- 
tional Labor  and  Reform 
party,  57;  in  the  eighties,  102, 
105;  in  the  nineties,  139;  see 
American  Federation  of  Labor. 

Labor   Press,  8,  21. 

Lake  Carriers'  Association,  190. 

Lassalle,  Ferdinand,  program  of, 
51,  73,  74. 

League  of  Nations  Pact,  242. 

Lobbying,  early,  21. 

Lumber  Carriers*  Association, 

Luther,  Seth,  17. 


McGuire,  P.  J.,  75,  140,  152. 

Machinery,  effect  of,  115. 

Machinists  and  Blacksmiths,  na- 
tional union  of,  41. 

Manhood  Suffrage,  9. 

Market  Theory  of  Industrial 
Evolution,  268. 

Marx,  Karl,  72,  265,  296. 

Mazzini,  Giuseppe,  73. 

Mechanics'  Lien,  12. 

Merchant-Capitalist,  11,  270,  271. 

Miners,  anthracite,  early  union, 
69;  strike  in  1888,  130;  agree- 
ment system  in  eighties,  lf>7 
note;  eight-hour  movement, 
132;  strike  in  1894,  136,  168; 
strike  in  1897,  168;  anthracite 
strike  of  1900,  175;  of  1902, 
176;  bituminous  strike  of  1919, 
251;  anthracite  strike  of  1920, 
251 ;  Interstate  agreement  sys- 
tem, 169;  West  Virginia  situ- 
ation, 168,  170. 

Mitchell,  John,  171,  176,  202. 

Molders,  and  cooperation,  54;  na- 
tional union,  41. 

Molly  Maguires,  69  note. 

Moore,  Ely,  first  labor  congress- 
man, 22,  24. 


National  Association  of  Manu- 
facturers, 195,  200,  252. 

National  Council  of  Defense,  233, 



National  Founders'  Association, 
186,  194. 

National  Industrial  Congress, 

National  Labor  Congress,  57,  111. 

National  Labor  Federations,  see 
National  Labor  Union,  Na- 
tional Labor  Congress,  Knights 
of  Labor,  and  American  Fed- 
eration of  Labor. 

National  Labor  Union,  45,  51, 
56,  111. 

National  Metal  Trades'  Associa- 
tion, 189,  194. 

National  Trades'  Union,  36,  107. 

Nationalization,  causes  of  in 
union  structure,  109. 

New  England  Protective  Union, 

Newlands  Act,  183. 

"New  York  Agreement,"  187, 

"New  Unionism,"  220. 

Open-Shop   Movement,   193,   253, 


"One  Big  Union,"  106,  218. 
"Outlaw"  Strike,  254. 
Owen,  Robert  Dale,  15. 

Packing  industry,  97,  240,  256. 

Paine,  Thomas,  13. 

Phillips,  Thomas,  53. 

Phillips,  Wendell,  57. 

Pinkertons,  134. 

Plumb  Plan,  253,  259. 

Powderly,  Terence  V.,  60,  71, 

Preponderance  of  Social  Power 
Theory  of  Social  Revolutions, 
295,  302. 

President's  Industrial  Confer- 
ence, 249. 

Printers,  early  societies  of,  4; 
national  trade  union,  40;  eight 
hours,  166. 

Prison  Labor,  21. 

Pullman  Strike,  136. 


Railway  Employes'  Department, 
185,  224. 

Railroad  Labor  Board,  253,  254, 

Railway  Men,  Adamson  Law, 
232;  arbitration  cases,  183; 
eight-hour  movement  in  1916, 

.  231 ;  first  organizations,  41 ; 
"National  Agreements,"  246 ; 
Plumb  Plan,  253,  259;  senior- 
ity, 181,  182;  see  Railway  Em- 
ployers' Department. 

Railway  Strikes,  of  1877,  58; 
of  1884-1885,  86;  of  the  South- 
west, 95 ;  of  1888,  130 ;  on  Great 
Northern,  137;  Pullman,  136; 
injunctions  in,  159. 

"Republican  Education,"  281. 

Restriction  of  Output,  191. 

"Reward  Your  Friends,"  289. 

Rochdale  System,  71,  73. 

Roosevelt,  Theodore,  104,  176, 

"Run-of-mine"  System,  169  note, 


Samuel,  John,  116. 

Schulze-Delitzsch,  74. 

Self-employment,  280. 

Seniority,  181,  182,  192. 

Sherman  Anti-Trust  Law,  154, 

Shoemakers,  early  societies  of,  4; 
see  Knights  of  St.  Crispin. 

Shorter  Hours,  first  strike  for,  3; 
ten-hour  movement,  22;  eight- 
hour  movement,  50,  91,  131, 
231 ;  eight-hours  philosophy,  45 ; 
first  effective  law,  50;  State 
eight-hour  laws,  49;  on  govern- 
ment work,  24,  26,  47;  on  gov- 
ernment contract  work,  199. 

Single  tax,  102. 

Skidmore,  Thomas,  13,  35. 

Socialism,  57,  140,  208,  212. 

Socialist  Labor  Party,  209,  211. 

Socialist  Trade  and  Labor  Al- 
liance, 211,  283. 

"Standards  of  Production,"  255. 

Steel  Strike,  248,  250. 



Steward,  Ira,  45. 

Strasser,  Adolph,  75,  76,  117,  140, 

Steel  Corporation,  United  States, 
171,  196,  254. 

Stephens,  Uriah  Smith,  68,  71. 

Strikes,  first  on  record,  3;  sym- 
pathetic, first  on  record,  5;  see 
Carpenters,  Miners,  and  Rail- 
way Men. 

Structural  Building  Trades'  Al- 
liance, 222. 

Structural  Erectors'  Association, 

Sylvis,  William  H.,  42,  54. 

Syndicalism,  79. 

System  Federation,  185. 

Sweatshop  System,  271. 

Taft,  William  H.,  159,  201,  205, 


Tammany,  28,  38,  104. 
Trade      Agreements,      275;      see 

Collective    Bargaining. 
Truax  case,  258. 
Typothetae,  United,  of  America, 

166,  190. 


United  States  Commission  on  In- 
dustrial Relations,  228. 

Unskilled,  90,  95,  101,  115,  122, 
165,  216,  219,  224. 

Van  Buren,  Martin,  27. 

Walsh,  Frank  P.,  228,  238. 

War,  Civil,  42. 

War  Labor  Board,  235,  238,  247. 

Webb,  Sidney  and  Beatrice,  293. 

Weitling,  Wilhelm,  32. 

Welles,  Gideon,  48. 

Western    Federation    of   Miners, 


Wilson,  William  B.,  206. 
Wilson,  Woodrow,  206,  237,  242, 

249,  253. 

Wolman,  Leo,  164. 
Working  Men's  Protective  Union, 


Women  Workers,  20. 
"Working  Rules,"  191. 
Wright,  Frances,  15. 

A    000  689  392 

University  of  California,  San  Diego 


APR  1  1  1973 

MAR  fl  2  RECO 


UCSD  Libr.